Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
As you know, the April jobs report was very disappointing, with only 266,000 jobs created, well below the estimated one million. President Joe Biden said in response that the pandemic unemployment benefit had no “measurable” impact on the low jobs number and that “people will come back to work if they are paid a decent wage.”
Employer comments in general and specific feedback we have received from NAW members all contradict the president’s assertions. And consistent with employer concerns about the pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) benefit, as of Mid-May 16 states have either terminated the extra payment or initiated steps to do so. Similarly, about half the states have begun to reimpose the “work search” condition for UI eligibility, and the President has asked the Department of Labor to review working with other states to do so as well.
In response to these actions, proponents of the extra UI payment are making the case that the pandemic payment should not be terminated and that the work search requirement should not be re-instated. In a May 13th commentary, the Century Foundation described the actions of governors to end the pandemic payments as “dereliction of responsibility” and “an affront to the workers in these states.” And yesterday the New York Times ran a story noting that the work search requirement “presents an undue hardship.”
UI proponents use stories of specific individuals whom they argue would be harmed by reform of the UI program to make the case against any changes in the policy, and they dismiss claims that the UI benefits create a disincentive for returning to work.
We need to fight this battle in a similar fashion and need specific examples of the UI benefit in fact making it difficult for employers to hire. Several NAW members have provided us with examples of job openings going unfilled, potential workers expressly turning down work because of the UI benefit, workers applying for work then not showing up for interviews or accepting jobs then not showing up for work. We have had the opportunity to share these stories (anonymously) with senators and House members, who use our anecdotes to make the case for reform of the programs.
If you have similar anecdotal stories, please share them with us by emailing Jade West at email@example.com. They really do make a difference on Capitol Hill.