(The Center Square) – West Virginia fully paid off its federal unemployment loans received during the COVID-19 pandemic and has enough money to also provide businesses with lower premium rates next year, Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday.
During the pandemic, West Virginia borrowed about $185 million from the federal government through loans from the Department of Treasury so it could continue to pay unemployment benefits amid historically high unemployment rates. The state was able to secure $220 million in state funds for the unemployment insurance trust fund, which allowed it to fully pay off the loan and provide businesses with a 25% reduction in unemployment insurance premium costs next year.
“This is going to be a massive reduction in costs for our West Virginia businesses and I could not be more proud of everyone who put in all the licks that made this possible,” Justice said in a statement
“From the very beginning of the pandemic, I knew that we had to plan for both the short-term and the long-term to ensure our state could rebound as quickly as possible and continue to build on all our recent successes,” Justice said. “That’s why, at first, we ran to the fire. We made sure that West Virginians were among the first in the nation to receive the extra $600-per-week unemployment benefit. And then, once we got our feet back under us, we budgeted responsibly. We started to see month after month of revenue surpluses and, eventually, we were able to put away enough money to not only fully pay back this loan, but also to set our businesses up in a great position moving forward.”
If the state was unable to pay off the entire loan by Sept. 4, businesses would have faced an automatic increase in its unemployment insurance premiums based on a funding structure that recoups losses from the businesses. Many businesses are still recovering from losses caused by the pandemic and subsequent economic restrictions.