Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Ending Extended Unemployment Benefits: People Need to Return to Work

Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson said his executive order to end federal extended unemployment benefits is already signaling to workers that they need to "get back to work" and get the "economy moving" in the wake of the pandemic.

Hutchinson joined two-dozen other governors, primarily made up of Republicans, who say businesses are reporting worker shortages as they try to reopen after 15 months of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Through President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year, supplemental unemployment benefits are still set to be funded through September 6. But 25 states, including Arkansas, are rejecting those benefits within the next few weeks prior to early July.

.@AsaHutchinson and Neil talk about ending federal extended unemployment benefits: It immediately sent a signal to workers out there

— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) June 5, 2021

"It immediately sent a signal to workers out there that you need to return to work. If you need training, we can provide training to you," Hutchinson said to Fox News' Neil Cavuto on his program Saturday. "If you need child-care assistance, we're going to have that assistance available to you. This is encouragement to go back to work. We've already seen some anecdotal [evidence] that 'it's going to end, let's go ahead and get back to work.'"

Hutchinson, who was among the country's first governors to end the extended federal benefits, said he was concerned that Biden would extend that extra weekly money even beyond September. But now he said the Biden administration and Congress should clearly see that such benefits are preventing people from getting bak to the workforce.

Hutchinson did not address the qualms of some progressive Democrats who say companies should be obliged to increase pay to entice Americans back into the workforce.

"I was worried that President Biden would actually extend the supplemental benefits beyond September," the Arkansas governor continued. "And I think clearly now with 20 states rejecting those supplemental benefits, they will end at the federal level. That is necessary, we want people to get back to work, and they are ready to get back to work. And employers absolutely need people to get back on the job so we can keep the economy moving."

Hutchinson said he's "optimistic" that the ending of the unemployment benefits will translate into better jobs numbers for the month of June than in the month of July.

According to a Labor Department report released Thursday, the U.S. added 559,000 jobs in may, despite a lingering 5.8 percent unemployment rate. In April, the country had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate.

The Saturday Cavuto segment on Fox News described the U.S. as being amid a "workforce crisis," as employers and many Republicans claim that the extended benefits are paying people too much and encouraging them not to work.

Texas, Florida, Indiana and Maryland, are among the GOP-led states that are ending the federal benefits earlier than September, all before early July. The federal program provides $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits.

"Our businesses are pleading with our people: we've got to have you back at work," said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said at a press conference last month.

Newsweek reached out to Hutchinson's office for any additional remarks Saturday afternoon.

Asa Hutchinson slams Trump for dividing GOP
Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday criticized former President Donald Trump for "dividing" the party. Alex Wong/Getty Images