Last week, the Department of Labor reported that only 266,000 jobs were created in April, falling far short of economists’ and analysts’ expectations, while Republican elected officials have said it is, in part, due to the extra $300 weekly benefits that were included in pandemic relief bills that were signed into law last year.
“We’ve got help-wanted signs up everywhere, we get calls and letters and texts from people, from all sorts of businesses all across the state looking for people to work,” McMaster, a Republican, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday before deriding the federal benefits as “as close to socialism that I’ve seen.”
“People won’t come to work because they’re getting as much money or more in some cases by staying home,” the Republican governor added. “We’ve got people and businesses that are looking for people actively every day and can’t find them because they are at home drawing this pay. … Go get a job and get back to work. That’s how you build an economy, build a family, and everything else,” he continued.
Bank of America economists estimated that someone earning less than $32,000 per year can potentially earn more in receiving unemployment benefits, thereby creating an incentive for individuals not to work, Bloomberg reported.
A number of GOP governors have announced that their states, respectively, would opt out of the federal unemployment program.
On Monday, Alabama Kay Ivey, a Republican, became the latest to leave the program, saying it would end in mid-June.
“As Alabama’s economy continues its recovery, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available jobs, even though job openings are abundant,” Ivey said in a statement.
Arkansas, Mississippi, and Montana are also planning to stop the benefits program.
Some Democrats and progressive advocacy groups have claimed the jobless aid doesn’t play a role in why some businesses aren’t finding employees.
“There are lots of anecdotal reports swirling around about employers who can’t find workers,” Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the left-wing Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a recent opinion article. “But a closer look reveals there may be a lot less to this than meets the eye.”
Shierholz and other progressives have argued that people haven’t returned to work due to wages or because of health concerns due to the pandemic.
“In the latest data on job openings, there were nearly 40 percent more unemployed workers than job openings overall, and more than 80 percent more unemployed workers than job openings in the leisure and hospitality sector,” she said.
Separately, President Joe Biden on Monday argued that the expanded unemployment benefits don’t factor into why people aren’t looking for work.
“The line has been because of the generous unemployment benefits, that it’s a major factor in labor shortages. Americans want to work. Americans want to work,” Biden said at the White House. “I think the people claiming Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people.”