Unemployment shutoffs: States offer workers cash incentives to find jobs

As 25 states end $300 weekly unemployment checks and pandemic aid, some are offering return-to-work bonuses.

Clifford Colby Managing Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
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Several states are promising money to those who accept jobs. 

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Half of US states are now pulling out of federal unemployment programs, claiming that the supplemental $300 a week and the extension of relief aid through Sept. 6 is discouraging Americans from finding work. A few states are ending the expanded programs as early as this week, with some state governments offering a "back to work bonus" as an incentive to fill jobs. Meanwhile, other states continuing the extra aid are also paying residents to take jobs. 

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, state governors say local businesses have job openings that are going unfilled and that jobless workers will return to the workforce if their unemployment insurance is cut off.

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 tax refunds from the IRS and this year's child care tax credit.

What are 'return to work' bonuses and which states are offering them?

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 qualifies for the bonus: Arizona, for example, is requiring unemployed workers to 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 the\ir 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.

Watch this: Child tax credit: Everything we know


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

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 stimulus 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.