On Tuesday, Governor Greg Gianforte announced two measures to address the state’s severe workforce shortage and incentivize Montanans to reenter the labor force.

A press release sent out Tuesday says that the State of Montana will launch a return-to-work bonus program, utilizing federal funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. Return-to-work bonuses will be paid to unemployed individuals who rejoin the labor force and accept and maintain steady employment for at least one month.

Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Gianforte also announced the State of Montana will end its participation in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs and transition to pre-pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility and benefits by the end of June.

Montana is open for business again, but I hear from too many employers throughout our state who can’t find workers. Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage. Incentives matter and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good. We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce. Our return-to-work bonus and the return to pre-pandemic unemployment programs will help get more Montanans back to work.

Gov. Gianforte said.

Across Montana, employers struggle to find workers, particularly in the health care, construction, manufacturing, and hospitality and leisure industries.

Returning to pre-pandemic unemployment eligibility and offering return-to-work incentives will encourage workers to reenter the workforce and help ease a critical labor shortage across Montana.

Montana will be the first state in the nation to fully opt-out of the federal unemployment benefit programs enacted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Requirements that unemployment insurance claimants actively seek work and be “able and available” for work will be reinstated effective June 27, as well.

More information and specific changes to Montana's unemployment insurance (UI) program can be found here.

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