Governor Announces New Employment Initiatives

Date: May 04, 2021

NFIB supports making going back to work more rewarding than staying on unemployment

Gov. Greg Gianforte on May 4 announced bold measures to address the state’s “severe workforce shortage,” which NFIB Montana applauded him for.

“NFIB commends and wholeheartedly supports Gov. Greg Gianforte’s innovative efforts to fill the many employment vacancies in our small businesses. According to NFIB’s last monthly Jobs Report, 42% of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, a 48-year record reading. Nearly all Montana Main Street businesses are struggling to find the necessary employees to return to pre-pandemic capacity. Encouraging and incentivizing, as the governor’s plan does, Montana workers to rejoin the workforce with a back-to-work bonus, rather than paying them to stay home, would be a welcomed improvement.”

According to a news release issued by the governor’s office, “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.

“The governor 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,’ Gov. Gianforte said.”

Also from the News Release

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

“Specifically, Montana’s Department of Labor & Industry announced the following changes to the unemployment insurance (UI) program:

  • Starting June 27, 2021, claimants who have exhausted their traditional UI benefits but had continued to receive them through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will no longer be eligible for UI payments.
  • Beginning June 27, 2021 Montana will no longer be issuing supplemental $300 weekly payments to claimants under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.
  • Beginning June 27, 2021, Montana will no longer participate in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA presently provides benefits to the self-employed, the underemployed, independent contractors, and individuals who have been unable to work due to health or COVID-19 affected reasons. 
  • Starting June 27, 2021, Montana will no longer participate in the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, which offers supplemental payments to individuals who had both traditional W-2 income as well as self-employment income.
  • Requirements that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work in order to be considered eligible for benefits will be reinstated effective June 27, 2021. These requirements had previously been suspended under emergency rule-making authority in March of last year. More information about work-search and “able & available” requirements is available in the UI Claimants handbook.

“Unemployment insurance claimants will be receiving information soon about how these changes affect them individually. Until then, claimants with questions about their future eligibility are encouraged to visit or contact the Department of Labor & Industry at 406-444-2545. Claimants receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should contact 406-444-3382.

“The Return-to-Work Bonus initiative will offer $1,200 payments to individuals receiving unemployment benefits as of May 4, 2021, who subsequently accept employment and complete at least four paid weeks of work. Individuals eligible for the bonus will be contacted by the Department of Labor and Industry and informed of their eligibility, as well as more information about how to ensure they receive the payment after they complete four weeks of employment.”




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