Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday the state will end distributing enhanced unemployment benefits by July 3, citing the decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases and widespread access to vaccines.
The benefits included an additional $300-per-week payments that could affect more than 15,000 people once ended.
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan provides states with federal dollars for those unemployed until Sept. 6.
The Republican governor joined 24 other states, also led by Republicans, with an increase in the economy.
“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” Hogan said in a statement. “We have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages. After 12 consecutive months of job growth, we look forward to getting more Marylanders back to work.”
Those who remain unemployed after July 3 will be required to engage in three reemployment activities each week, which will be reinstated through the state Department of Labor. Individuals can search for jobs through the Maryland Workforce Exchange or through upcoming job fairs.
If claimants don’t show proof, “they may be determined ineligible to receive regular state unemployment insurance benefits.”
Hogan’s decision to end the benefits two months ahead of the federal deadline drew sharp criticism from Democratic leaders.
Maryland House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County) called the decision “sickening” in a Twitter post Tuesday.
“Governor Hogan’s decision to discontinue enhanced unemployment benefits for thousands of Marylanders is extremely short-sighted,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said in a statement. “Families throughout the state depend on these benefits to keep food on the table and ensure their bills are paid. “We are more than a year into this pandemic and Marylanders are still struggling.”
The federal benefits remain in effect in neighboring Virginia and the District of Columbia.