Asked about UI benefits, Baker points to pandemic’s impacts

Boston Statehouse

In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

BOSTON (SHNS) – A growing number of Republican governors have opted to terminate federal pandemic unemployment benefits, saying the $300 additional payments are contributing to a workforce shortage.

Gov. Charlie Baker suggested Tuesday that he’s unlikely to be the next one on the list. Asked Tuesday if he’d thought about canceling the additional benefits, Baker did not directly say yes or no but described Massachusetts as “a very high-cost state.”

“My biggest concern about this issue in a state like Massachusetts is we have very high housing costs, food prices have gone up, we have high costs, generally,” the governor said.

He added, “And most of the people who’ve been most profoundly impacted by everything associated with the pandemic are folks who are not, for the most part, even at the median end, much less the upper end, of the wage scale, and they have rent to pay, they have utility bills to pay. What I want to do is get them back to work by continuing to reopen the economy and creating jobs and making it possible for them to do that.”

Eleven governors are moving to end the expanded benefits early in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming, according to a Business Insider tally

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