Edwards won’t end federal unemployment boost, for now 

Louisiana business organizations on Wednesday called on Gov. John Bel Edwards to join Republican-led states in cutting off the extra $300 in federal unemployment assistance going to the jobless, arguing it’s harming employer efforts to rehire workers.

Edwards says he doesn’t intend to immediately end the weekly federal aid, but he left open the possibility of doing so later.

Ten leading business groups in the state representing contractors, homebuilders, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, retailers and more sent a letter to Edwards trying to sway him.

For now, Edwards intends to keep the federal aid flowing even as many of Louisiana’s neighboring states have opted out of the benefit. But he said on his monthly radio show Wednesday that he will study the issue, and he reenacted requirements in August that people receiving jobless aid prove they are looking for work. 

“What I want to do is make sure that it would be right for Louisiana, and I don’t want to rush into this,” Edwards says of scrapping the federal jobless aid.

The governor notes that Louisiana is heavily dependent on tourism, which hasn’t recovered from the pandemic, and he says that sets the state apart from many of its neighbors.

The extra $300 per week in federal assistance, available until September, comes on top of state unemployment benefits that max out at $247 a week in Louisiana.

While the business groups believe the extra federal jobless benefit is discouraging some people from taking jobs, government surveys also show people are reluctant to look for work because they fear contracting COVID-19. In addition, other groups say many women have dropped out of the workforce to care for children and some people are searching for higher-paying jobs with benefits. Read the full story.