Kentucky legislature must prioritize business recovery, job growth

The year 2020 has been like no other, filled with unprecedented challenges and continued uncertainty. As we entered this new decade, Kentucky’s economy was growing, unemployment was low and our workforce participation was rising.

This growth ended when COVID-19 hit, and businesses were forced to close, scale back and retool their operations to protect Kentuckians by stopping the spread of the virus. 

During the 2021 legislative session, the business community will work with lawmakers to advance an agenda focused on economic recovery and getting Kentuckians back to work. The General Assembly will tackle many vital issues, including a budget, during the 30-day session, but we also encourage lawmakers to prioritize economic recovery and relief for businesses.

Unemployment insurance

Unemployment numbers rose in Kentucky in the wake of COVID-19 due to mandated business closures and additional regulations. Kentucky’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund carried a balance of about $618 million before the pandemic, but the fund dwindled to $0 as the state continued to lead the nation in unemployment.

A business owner puts up a sign in the window letting customers know the store is closed due to the coronavirus.

We are grateful Gov. Beshear has committed to allocate a portion of federal CARES Act dollars to the UI fund to begin paying back a federal loan of more than $800 million used to pay benefits. The funds will give much-needed relief to Kentucky employers.

However, more support is required. We encourage the General Assembly to look at structural reforms to the UI system to minimize the cost to Kentucky businesses while protecting this vital support for employees.

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