Half of states across America have announced they will stop participating in the federal government’s weekly $300 unemployment bonuses. The plans were set to expire in September, but 25 states looked at April’s jobs report and knew it couldn’t wait.
Why couldn’t it wait? Because open jobs were remaining unfilled, while millions of people collected unemployment. Economists predicted 1 million new jobs in April. Instead, only 266,000 jobs were added.
Newspapers nationwide have been filled with stories of empty job fairs, interview no-shows, and employers begging for people to come back to work. It’s nearly impossible to drive across town without seeing a “now hiring” sign in a storefront window. There are 8.1 million job openings across the country waiting to be filled — a record high — yet unemployment actually rose to 6.1 percent in April.
It’s not just the industries hit hardest by lockdowns, like the leisure and hospitality sectors, struggling to find workers. U.S. manufacturers reported a record high of 700,000 jobs available last month, but few takers. Some blame so-called “starvation wages,” but wages are rising faster than they have in years. In fact, every single non-farm private sector of the U.S. economy saw wage growth in April.
Jobs are paying more than ever, and there are more jobs than ever from which applicants can choose. All these signs should point to an economic boom, but there’s just one problem: the federal government is paying people to stay home, and it’s crushing small businesses.
Unemployment was created to provide temporary assistance to people who lost jobs through no fault of their own and are actively seeking work. But when politicians shut down the American economy to “flatten the curve,” it prevented millions of workers from earning a living for their families. Government officials promptly expanded welfare programs to unprecedented levels in an attempt to fix the mess they created. But they only made things worse.
Congress boosted and extended unemployment benefits, relaxed eligibility rules, and suspended work search requirements. They made it as easy — and lucrative — as possible for people to live without having to work.
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