Around 3,000 Montanans got back-to-work bonuses, $11 million went unused
The Gianforte administration’s initiative to get Montanans back to work amid the pandemic went mostly unanswered.
According to a Department of Labor and Industry report, 24,000 Montanans receiving unemployment benefits last May were told that if they got a job, the state would pay them a $1,200 return-to-work bonus. More than 6,000 of those people applied, and about half of applicants were approved to receive the bonuses.
Broken down by industry, the largest portion of bonus recipients found jobs in food preparation and serving, followed by office support and sales.
Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the return-to-work bonus program on the same day last May that he became the first governor in the country to end federally boosted unemployment benefits.
The $15 million in available bonuses were contingent on applicants providing proof of a wage-paying job in Montana between May and October, and holding that job for four weeks.
The program ended last November, and according to the state labor department, $11 million went unused. Those funds are now going to an incentive program for out-of-state nurses to move to Montana in an attempt to address the state’s health care staffing shortage.
The labor department says it plans to further study the long-term impacts of the program.
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