Growing concerns over pandemic-related benefits ending while some say they still need the support

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – In addressing the labor shortage, Governor Henry McMaster has ended pandemic-related unemployment benefits. However, some argue that’s hurting some of the recipients who still need that extra help.

According to Governor McMaster, the labor shortage across the state is caused by people at home receiving too much in supplemental benefits on top of their state unemployment benefits. He said that’s incentivizing and paying workers to stay home.

“People all over the state are pointing at that as the reason that they can’t get these employees to come back to work,” Governor McMaster said. “So I believe in that information and whatever data is available,”

During a webinar on Tuesday, Director for the D.E.W., Daniel Elizey agreed.

“I do think we’ve got some challenges and those challenges are making sure the employers have got the employees they need, otherwise the growth is going to stop,” Elizey said. “The recovery is going to stop.”

He cited that 81-thousand jobs are posted in the state, yet 103-thousand people were paid unemployment benefits last week.

“So obviously someone who is making more now than they made on the job when they had to work 40 hours and drive to work and pay for childcare does not want to return to work,” Elizey said. “And I feel that that is the dilemma that we face right now.”

Which is something that hits home for single dad, Michael Gill.

“Everyone’s not trying to cheat the system,” Gill said. “Some people need it.”

He said his unemployment checks strictly go to his monthly rent. His employment has been effected by the shortage of school bus drivers.

“I’m an electrician,” Gill explained. “Anyone who does that trade knows they start at 7 o’clock, there’s not much lean there. Now if my kids have to be at school at 8, that doesn’t give me much time to navigate, especially if I’m working in Greenville.”

He said in 41 years, this is his first time on unemployment– a system he’s paid into his whole life.

But now, he’s worried about the next couple of months.

“I’m worried about obviously taking food out of my kids mouths,” Gill said. “Now if I go and I work for $13-dollars an hour, I lose the little bit of benefits that I do to keep me afloat. Then we’re really struggling then… When they need something.”

In the meantime, says he’ll do what he has to.

“I’ll do what I have to do to take care of them,” Gill said. “And everyone’s opinion on it is irrelevant because no one pays bills in my house, but me.”

According to that order from Governor McMaster, those federally funded pandemic unemployment benefits will end the final week of June.

The D.E.W. has several programs to offer in an effort to help people get a job. To find yours, click here.

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