HELENA — The Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has detailed the final numbers from last year's Return To Work Bonus Program.
The program was part of a two-prong approach to incentivize people to return to the workforce that included the state opting out of additional federal pandemic unemployment benefits.
The DLI report on the state's Return to Work Bonus Program says the program paid out more than 3-thousand bonuses totaling $3.6 million.
Starting in May 2021, the program was an initiative to get people in Montana back to work. People receiving unemployment benefits as of May 4 could apply for a $1,200 incentive payment if they found a job and stayed with an employer for four weeks.
The state estimated that around 22,000 people were eligible for a bonus.
By the end of the program, about 28 percent of those eligible had applied - about 6,100 people.
Of those 6,100 applicants, just under half were approved.
DLI reported that most of the applications that were rejected were because the individual was ineligible or because they failed to verify re-employment. Of those who secured work and were paid a bonus 14.5 percent found jobs in office support and administration followed by food service jobs at 14.3 percent.
DLI also said data indicated that those who took advantage of the program found jobs that paid better than their previous employment.
In Lewis & Clark County, 335 applications were received and were approved, totaling $196,800 being allocated.
DLI allocated $15 million for the Return-to-work bonus program. The remaining $11.3 million will be reallocated to future American Rescue Plan Act initiatives in the state.