As it's set up currently, Illinoisans collecting unemployment insurance receive an extra $300 a week from the federal government, which is intended to help them get through the pandemic. Since individual governors can opt their states out of that particular benefit, 18 governors have done just that, and more are seriously considering it.

The $300 federal pandemic-related benefit is scheduled to expire in September, but some lawmakers in both Illinois and Wisconsin want to see Governors Pritzker and Evers exercise their right to opt out of the extra benefit for their states.

Why? Lawmakers and business groups believe that the added benefit is keeping people on unemployment longer than necessary, and that employers are struggling to fill open jobs in many employment sectors. The thought is that employers are competing with the government for employees, which is causing a labor shortage by making staying at home more lucrative than getting a job.

When you add in April's awful jobs report (266,000 new jobs instead of the 1 million that had been predicted) the effort across the country to get rid of the extra $300 payment has gotten some serious attention. As you might imagine, there is opposition to dropping the $300 benefit.

Others think factors like child care and the coronavirus play a primary role in hiring difficulties — not the $300 payments. It’s also likely a short-term blip that reflects growing pains in a rapidly expanding economy, they claim.

But the truth is likely somewhere is the middle, according to economists.

If Wisconsin's legislature approves opting out of the $300 benefit, they may be looking at a veto by Governor Tony Evers. Here in Illinois, Governor Pritzer has not shown himself to be in favor of opting out, and with the Statehouse under Democratic control, he hasn't needed to threaten a veto.

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