Labor and Treasury officials advised states to use pandemic funds to continue paying out unemployment benefits after they’ve expired even as a record 10 million new jobs remain available.
The Biden administration last week told lawmakers in a letter it is “appropriate” for expanded unemployment benefits to expire on September 6th.
More than 11 million jobless workers could see their jobless benefits expire or see their aid reduced by $300 a week.
But that didn’t stop them from offering a workaround.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal advising on ways to circumvent the expiration date set by Congress.
“The American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion to state and local governments to support communities’ continuing response to the pandemic, address its economic impacts, and lay the groundwork for a strong and equitable recovery,” the letter reads.
“Now, in states where a more gradual wind-down of income support for unemployed workers makes sense based on local economic conditions, American Rescue Plan funds can be activated to cover the cost of providing assistance to unemployed workers beyond Sept. 6,” they write.
The ploy to continue paying out unemployment benefits by circumventing a congressionally set deadline comes even as reports indicate there are a record number of jobs available.
Forbes earlier this month, based on a Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, indicated that “a record-setting 10.1 million jobs are available.”
“Ironically,” they write, “the good news created a new problem.”
“Businesses can’t find employees due to the huge increase in demand for workers.”
The publication claims the employees aren’t connecting with the available jobs because they feel “comfortable and confident in quitting their jobs to find a better one.”
Republicans have argued that it is the unemployment benefits themselves that are contributing to so many available jobs.
The benefits, they argue, have been too attractive, preventing people from getting motivated to enter the workforce.
Fox Business blamed the government for paying people not to work stating, “extended unemployment benefits encouraged workers to stay home.”
Katherine Judge, an economist at CIBC Capital Markets, practically confirms this according to Bloomberg News.
“Our research suggests that generous unemployment benefit supplements have been the main factor holding employment gains back amidst record levels of job openings,” Judge said.
President Biden has countered that people aren’t coming back to work because businesses aren’t paying them enough, echoing Forbes’ reporting.
Speaking at a town hall last month, Biden told a concerned restaurant owner that the key to getting people back to work is to simply pay them more.
“My guess is that people paying seven, eight dollars an hour plus tips, that’s — I think, John, you’re going to be finding 15 bucks an hour or more now,” he told the businessman.
“My gut tells me that … there’s a lot of people looking to change their occupation. But I could be wrong,” he said. “I think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things and there’s a shortage of employees.”
A Morning Consult survey from July cites unemployment benefits as one of the top three reasons people had turned down job offers.
“I receive enough money from unemployment insurance without having to work,” ranked third as a reason behind pandemic concerns and childcare obligations, which was the leading cause.
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