Unemployment ending early: Some states giving bonus money to ‘return to work’ – CNET


A handful of states are offering back-to-work bonuses to fill jobs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At least half the US states are now pulling out of the federal unemployment program that sends an extra $300 each week to jobless workers through Sept. 6. A handful of states that are ending the payments early, however, are offering a “back to work bonus” as an incentive for unemployed workers to take jobs instead. A few states staying in the program are also paying residents to take jobs in their states.

According to the Department of Labor, more than 9.5 million workers lost their jobs during the pandemic, with 4 million out of work for at least half a year. With the economy now showing signs of recovery, 25 state governors say local businesses have job openings that are going unfilled — and that the weekly payments are discouraging workers from taking jobs. By ending participation in the federal program, governors say jobless workers will return to the workforce.

Here’s which states are offering a return-to-work bonus to attract the unemployed to open positions. For more, here’s what to know about the unemployment payment tax refund from the IRS and this year’s child care tax credit.

What is a ‘return to work’ bonus and which states are offering one?

Just like it sounds, a handful of states are making plans to send a back-to-work check to unemployed workers who take local jobs. Each state has guidelines for who qualify for the bonus: Arizona, for example, is requiring unemployed workers start between May 13 and Sept. 6. In New Hampshire, workers need to work for eight consecutive weeks in a job that pays $25 or less an hour. See below for which states are offering a bonus and their requirements.

At least four states that are canceling the $300 bonus checks — Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire and Oklahoma — are offering a bonus to workers who accept a job. Other states — including Colorado and Connecticut — are continuing the $300 payments but offering their own new-job bonus. Each state has slightly different requirements for receiving the money, so check with your state for guidelines.

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You can receive $2,000 if you work the equivalent of at least eight 40-hour weeks over the first 10 weeks after returning to work at a qualifying job. If you work the equivalent of at least eight 20-hour weeks in the first 10 weeks after returning to the workforce, you may get $1,000. Among the rules to qualify, you must start a new job that pays $25 or less per hour between May 13 and Sept. 6. 


If you start a full-time job between May 16 and June 26 (and meet the other requirements), the state will send you a check: $1,600 if you begin in May and $1,200 if you start in June. 


Beginning May 30, eligible state residents who take a job and work eight consecutive weeks can qualify for a $1,000 payment. The program runs through the end of 2021.


The state will pay a $1,200 bonus to those who claimed unemployment as of May 4 and have accepted a new job since. The state said it will contact those who are eligible after working four weeks at their new job.

New Hampshire


Half a dozen states are offering to pay residents to return to work.

Angela Lang/CNET

Starting May 18, if you begin a job and work for eight consecutive weeks, the state will pay $1,000 for full-time employment and $500 for part-time work. Jobs must pay $25 or less an hour to qualify.


The state will pay $1,200 to the first 20,000 unemployed workers who take a job between May 17 and Sept. 4. To be eligible, you need to work 32 hours a week for six consecutive weeks.

Which states are considering a back-to-work bonus as well?

At least two other states — New York and North Carolina — are considering return-to-work bonuses. Both are still participating in the $300 federal payment program, which is set to expire in September.

For more money you could receive through government benefits, here’s the latest on the child tax credit payments starting in July, including how much you could expect to receive and who is eligible for those checks.

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