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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signaled Thursday that he plans to offer incentives to entice more people back to work to help resolve labor shortages that Republican lawmakers and businesses blame on enhanced jobless benefits.

The Democratic governor has steadfastly defended the $300 in extra weekly federal unemployment payments. The supplemental benefits inject $34 million each week into Kentucky's economy, with pandemic-battered retailers, grocery stores and restaurants among the beneficiaries, he said.

Beshear said he wants to get more Kentuckians back to work as the economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic and said his administration is working on a plan to offer incentives.

“We are working on that program now," he said at a news conference. "We are looking at what other states are offering. And I hope this time next week to have an announcement on that.”

He didn't offer details but said he hopes the initiative could launch soon after the announcement.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ashli Watts said the business sector is eager to hear details of the plan and how it can help.

“This is a dire problem and we need strong solutions,” she said in a statement.

The business community sees a phaseout of extra jobless benefit as “one step” to resolve the problem, Watts said.

"Until our workforce participation increases, we will not truly be able to recover economically from the pandemic,“ she said.

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