Idaho paying people to return to work after lockdowns

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Idaho is preparing to offer cash bonuses to eligible residents who return to work after being forced to stay at home because of the coronavirus restrictions.

Qualified residents who return to part-time work can apply for a $750 grant, GOP Gov. Brad Little announced this month. Those who return to full-time work can apply for a $1,500 bonus.

The program applies to workers eligible for unemployment benefits.

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"A strong economic rebound cannot occur without workers returning to a job, and the new Return to Work cash bonuses incentivize our workforce to get back to work safely," Little said in a statement. "Like other states, Idaho went from record employment to record unemployment levels in a matter of weeks. Our hearts go out to those who lost jobs or income due to the global pandemic."

Gov. Brad Little announces Idaho's progression into Stage 4 of the state's economic recovery after a shutdown in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Thursday, June 11, 2020 at the Idaho Statehouse in Downtown Boise. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

Gov. Brad Little announces Idaho's progression into Stage 4 of the state's economic recovery after a shutdown in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Thursday, June 11, 2020 at the Idaho Statehouse in Downtown Boise. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

Nearly all Idaho businesses are open, according to the governor's office.

The Idaho Workforce Development Council will work out the application details by Thursday, according to the state's website. The Idaho State Tax Commission will process applications, which will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Little's plan will distribute up to $100 million in federal relief funds.

Trump administration officials expressed moderate interest after Sen. Rob Portman put forth a similar program on the national level in May.

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"It’s something we’re looking at very carefully,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox News' “America’s Newsroom” in May.

Portman was concerned that enhanced unemployment benefits would disincentivize individuals from returning to the workforce. In his press release, Little said more than 60 percent of Americans out of work due to coronavirus earn more with enhanced unemployment benefits than their normal wages.