Unemployment benefits have become a scapegoat in the return to work debate in the United States

Frank Phillips, the owner of a few coffee franchises in Boulding, Georgia, says he once received 200 job applications when opening a new location. On his last opening in March, he was 35 years old.

One factor he blames is the unemployment benefits that laid-off workers have been collecting during pandemic, Localized by Federal Reserve Funds, are currently adding $ 300 per week to checks they receive from the states.

“There is a lot of competition in the market when the federal government plays in that court,” says Phillips. “We have to get the federal government out of the way so we can do business.”

As countries emerge from lockdown and the economy recovers, companies, especially those in the entertainment and hospitality sectors, have reported that they cannot find enough workers to meet the growing demand.

Some of the big companies including Walmart, McDonald’s and Chipotle Attract workers with incentives such as hiring bonuses and higher wages, while some small business owners say they have had to fill additional shifts themselves or reduce operations.

Some fear that a shortage of willing workers could hamper companies’ recovery from the epidemic and take advantage of the boom in demand. Conservatives say the Biden administration extending a $ 300-week increase in state unemployment insurance benefits through September may motivate some workers to stay home rather than look for a new job.

Their fears are magnified by an unexpected reason Procrastinating job creation In April, though, employers reported a record number of job vacancies to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Covid crisis has forced the federal government to do so in a big way Expanded Its safety net, from managing the vaccine rollout to spending trillions of dollars on stimulus. Republicans say it is time to make a comeback, starting with unemployment insurance.

In an effort to get people back into the job market, more than 20 Republican governors have moved to get rid of additional federal amounts of unemployment insurance plans in their states before they expire.

More than half of Americans support cutting unemployment benefits, a vote From Quinnipiac University I found. But workers and job advocates say what the economy really needs are safer, higher-paying jobs, and economists say the focus on unemployment benefits ignores the real reasons why so many people are not yet returning to the workforce.

a The survey Of the 2,000 people who worked in restaurant kitchens run by recruiting company Mis en Place, they found that 26 percent left the industry permanently. Some mentioned long working hours and relatively low wages.

A third of workers surveyed by Miz Blass said they intended to return but did not do so for various reasons. Some said they were still looking for the right opportunity or worried about contracting Covid-19. Only 6 percent referred to unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.

Researchers at the San Francisco Federal Reserve found last summer that the federal bonus, then $ 600, would prevent a few unemployed workers from taking a new job. The Current top-up feature of $ 300 It will likely have only a minor impact on companies’ ability to find workers, as they find.

Josh Bevens, director of research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, says it is unclear how successful fringe cuts can get people back to work.

“These jobs have become a lot less desirable because of the pandemic,” says Bevins. “If someone has to show up in a very crowded restaurant, they might not feel good about it, and I think that makes a lot of sense.”

States that had cut federal unemployment benefits saw a temporary spike in job searches after the initial announcement, according to the Indeed jobs website. However, this burst of research activity faded after several days.

Activists and some economists say benefits may only be one of the factors workers take into account before taking on work.

“There are people who earn more from unemployment than if they get a job, but I think it’s a gamble to assume that this is the only reason some companies have trouble hiring,” says Anne Elizabeth Konkell, an economist at Indeed. “We are still in a pandemic, the workers are still worried about the public health situation.”

Kunkell says childcare responsibilities are likely to be a bigger factor for women, as they represent a large number of workers who have left the workforce during the pandemic and employees of entertainment and hospitality companies.

Schools that have already returned to classroom teaching are closing in the summer, and other facilities including summer camps and day care centers are running at a reduced capacity.

Economists say reports of worker shortages are largely confined to the leisure and hospitality sector. In other fields such as construction, arts, entertainment, and recreation, job seekers still outnumber open jobs by two to one, according to BLS data.

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