Unemployment benefits become a scapegoat in the U.S. return to work debate


Frank Phillips, the owner of several coffee chains in Paulding, Georgia, said he had received 200 job applications when he opened a new store. For his most recent opening ceremony in March, he had 35.

One factor he blames is the unemployment benefits received by laid-off workers during the epidemic. Pandemic, The top-up from the federal government, currently adds $300 a week to the checks they receive from the states.

“When the federal government was playing on that playground, there was too much competition in the market,” Phillips said. “We have to let the federal government out so that we can do business.”

As states get rid of the lockdown and the economy recovers, businesses, especially those in the leisure and hospitality industries, report that they cannot find enough workers to meet the growing demand.

Some of the larger companies include Walmart, McDonald’s and Chipotle Attempts to attract workers through incentives such as recruitment bonuses and higher wages, while some smaller business owners say they are forced to fill in extra shift hours or reduce operations themselves.

Some people worry that a lack of willing workers may hinder companies from recovering from the pandemic and benefiting from booming demand. Conservatives said that the Biden government extended the state’s existing unemployment insurance subsidy of $300 a week to September, which may encourage some workers to stay at home instead of looking for new jobs.

Their worries were magnified by an unexpected thing Job creation stagnated In April, despite employers reporting record vacancies to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Covid crisis has forced the federal government to drastically expansion Its safety net ranges from managing the launch of vaccines to spending trillions of dollars for stimulus. Republicans said it was time to call back, starting with unemployment insurance.

To encourage people to return to the labor market, more than 20 Republican governors have taken action to cancel federal supplements to them before their state unemployment insurance plans expire.

More than half of Americans support cuts in unemployment benefits polling Discovered by Quinnipiac University. But workers and labor advocates say that what the economy really needs is safer, higher-paying jobs. Economists say that the focus on unemployment benefits ignores the real reason why many people have not yet returned to the labor market.

A kind Polls A survey of 2,000 people working in restaurant kitchens by the human resources company Mis en Place found that 26% have left the industry permanently. Some people mentioned long working hours and relatively low wages.

One third of the workers surveyed by Mise en Place stated that they plan to return but have not yet returned for various reasons. Some people say they are still looking for suitable opportunities or worry about signing with Covid-19. Only 6% mentioned unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found last summer that the $600 federal bonus at the time could prevent a small number of unemployed workers from accepting new jobs.This Current top-up benefits of $300 They found that this may only have a small impact on the company’s ability to find workers.

Josh Bivens, head of research at the Left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said it is not clear how successful cutting off fringe benefits will be in getting people back to work.

“Due to the pandemic, these jobs have become less popular,” Bivins said. “If someone has to show up in a very crowded restaurant, they may still not feel good about it. I think it’s very reasonable.”

According to data from the employment website Indeed, after the initial announcement, the number of job applicants in states where federal unemployment benefits have been cut has temporarily surged. However, the explosion of search activity disappeared after a few days.

Activists and some economists say that welfare may be just one of the factors workers consider before looking for a job.

Ann Elizabeth Conkel, an economist at Indeed, said: “Some people get more income through unemployment than they do to find a job, but I think it’s a gamble and think it’s the only reason why some companies have difficulty recruiting.” “We Still in a pandemic, workers are still worried about the public health situation.”

Conkel said that parenting responsibilities may be a bigger factor for women, who account for a large percentage of workers who leave during the pandemic and employees in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Schools that did resume classroom teaching are preparing for the summer vacation, and other facilities, including summer camps and daycare centers, are running at lower capacities.

Economists say that reports of worker shortages are mainly limited to the leisure and hotel industries. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in other fields such as architecture, art, entertainment and leisure, the number of job seekers still exceeds the number of vacant positions by two to one.


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