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'Return to Earn' aimed at getting Virginians back to work

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 12:15:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday he is launching a $3 million pilot program to provide $1,000 to Virginians who get back into the workforce.

The "Return to Earn" program will match cash stipends of up to $500 that businesses can give to new hires to help them transition back to work.

In addition, the state will give people $500 if they get a job in childcare and if the job pays $15 per hour.

That $3 million for the program comes from federal funding.

Northam said this will help offset the costs of child care and transportation for those returning to work.

The grant program will serve businesses with less than 100 employees who are paying at least $15 per hour.

Northam said providing this extra money to new hires is essential because 1.67 million Virginians have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic -- which comes out to one in every three Virginians.

His goal is to not only help people get back to work, but to also help out Virginia's small businesses.

"That will make a difference to a lot of people, and will help them overcome some of the issues that are keeping them out of the workforce. Helping people get back into the workforce. It's also good for our small businesses just like here at Harvest, because a lot of them are seeing a sharp rise in demand," said Northam during a press conference on Friday.

Northam said he wants to get Virginia back to where we were before the pandemic, which included a statewide unemployment rate at an all time low of 2.6%.

That number is now at 4.7%, which is below the national average, and the governor said we are on our way to economic recovery.