All across the country, millions of job openings remain unfilled. As a response, nearly half of the states are taking action to cut off citizens from the federal government’s $300 per week teat worth of unemployment benefits.
On March 5, eight Senate Democrats joined rank with the full compliment of 50 Senate Republicans in rejection of an amendment that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The long-time target wage of progressives is known as a means to kill jobs outright in many parts of the country. The total estimate offered by the Congressional Budget Office reported an expected loss of 1 million American jobs if such a measure were passed.
However, those same eight Democrats who prudently opposed a $15 per hour minimum wage, passed legislation which extends the emergency unemployment benefits until September of this year, which includes $300 per week in addition to normal unemployment benefit, averaging $318 per week. Divide $618 by 40 standard hours of labor, and that means unemployed Americans are being paid $15.45 to do nothing in a period when vaccines are readily available and the pandemic is all but gone.
Those who oppose the unemployment extension bonus explain that this was all very predictable. Why would a person seek out a job that pays less when the government would reward them greater for doing nothing instead of laboring?
The April jobs report, revealed this past May 7, showed that the economy only recovered at a rate of 266,000 jobs, a dismal figure compared with economists’ prediction of 1 million recovered jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the end of February, there were 7.4 million job listings, with the number only growing.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) explains that while most Americans are “pro-work” they are “also rational. . . not going to take a pay cut” in order to work. He argues that people are left with a “perverse choice” between doing the right thing in the short term for the family, or doing the right thing in the long term for society.
Sasse introduced a bill which would convert the unemployment bonus into a federal sign-on bonus for Americans who start new jobs.
Zero Senate Democrats have endorsed Sasse’s signing-bonus act, but several states have jumped on the idea. South Carolina and Montana have already announced plans to convert the $300 per week unemployment bonus money into a signing bonus.
On the Democrat side of the aisle, the debate is not whether to end or convert unemployment benefits, but whether or not to make another extension in September. Several Democrat figures reject the notion that the unemployment benefits are responsible for the slow job recovery. President Biden said earlier in the month that the benefits can only be received by individuals who are actively seeking a job.
Sasse points out that in the real world, the official policy doesn’t hinder people from continuing to receive unemployment benefits this way. The only way in which and individual might get caught for purposely prolonging their unemployment benefits would be if an employer accepts that person for a job, and they decline it, and then the employer would need to choose to spend their time tracking down the right bureaucrat in order to tattle. “It just doesn’t happen,” Sasse explains.
The government created a system that “disincentivizes work” Sasse claims, calling the problem a “policy failure.”
Author: Ellen Clark