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Where are the workers? Cutoff of jobless aid spurs no influx

2021-10-22 13:20:01 –

Indianapolis — Earlier this year, business leaders and Republican governors screamed persistently. Cut off $ 300 a week in federal supplements for unemployed Americans. Many then argued that they would move away from the bystanders and undertake millions of jobs that employers were desperate to meet.

Still, three months after half of the state began ending its federal payments, there was no significant influx of job seekers.

In states that have cut $ 300 checks, the workforce, that is, the number of people working or looking for a job, has grown as much as in states that maintain payments. The federal aid ended nationwide on September 6, along with two unemployment assistance programs that served gig workers and long-term unemployed. Still, America’s overall workforce actually shrank that month.

Fiona Craig, managing director of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, who investigated the issue using JP Morgan’s bank account data, said: “Policymakers end unemployment insurance to boost the labor market. I had too many expectations for doing it. ” “The work-inhibiting effect was clearly small.”

Labor shortages have lasted longer than many economists expected, deepening the mystery at the heart of the employment market. Companies are keen to add workers and are posting a record number of available jobs. The unemployment rate remains rising. The economy still has 5 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. However, employment growth slowed in August and September.

According to an analysis of state-by-state data by AP News, the 25-state workforce that maintained $ 300 payments actually cut off between May and September, according to data released Friday. Slightly increased than. Early payments, most of them in June. In addition to regular state unemployment assistance, a $ 300 weekly federal check meant that many unemployed people received more benefits than they had earned from their previous jobs.

A previous study by Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a few colleagues found a slight increase in unemployed employment in states that cut off the $ 300 federal payment. But it also turned out that it didn’t attract more people from the bystanders to look for a job.

Economists point out a variety of factors that are likely to prevent millions of former recipients of federal unemployment assistance from returning to the workforce. For example, many Americans in public work are still afraid to get COVID-19. Some families lack childcare.

Others, such as Rachel Montgomery of Anderson, Indiana, have come to value the opportunity to spend more time with their families and feel that they are financially successful, at least for now. Montgomery, a 37-year-old mother, said she became much more “capricious” about where she was willing to work after losing her catering job last year. Losing $ 300 a week in federal payments didn’t change her mind. She will receive regular state unemployment assistance for a few more weeks.

“Who would have to physically go back to work if I stayed home with my kids and family like this?” She said. “I told myself that when I was looking for something I knew I was eligible to do certain things, I wouldn’t sacrifice salary or flexibility by working remotely. It also finds such a job. “

Indeed, the pandemic seems to have caused a reassessment of priorities, with some deciding to spend more time with their families, others sticking to working remotely and getting more flexibility. There is also.

Some former beneficiaries, especially the elderly and wealthy, have decided to retire earlier than planned. Fed officials estimate that up to two million people have retired since then, as Americans’ overall home prices and equity portfolio have skyrocketed since the pandemic. I am.

Also, after receiving three stimulus checks in 18 months and, in some cases, federal unemployment assistance, most households have a larger cash cushion than before the pandemic. JPMorgan’s Greig and her colleagues have found in a study that the median bank balances of the poorest quarter households have skyrocketed by 70% since the COVID hit. As a result, some people are taking the time to consider their options before rushing back to the job market.

Graham Berryman, 44, who lives in Springfield, Missouri, has saved money since Missouri cut off $ 300 a week in federal unemployment in June. He had a temporary job in the past reviewing law firm documents. But he hasn’t found anything permanent since August 2020.

“I’m not lazy,” Berryman said. “I’m unemployed. That doesn’t mean I’m lazy. Just because someone can’t find a suitable job in their profession doesn’t mean they’re thrown away.”

Similarly, some couples have determined that at least temporarily, one income can work instead of two.

Sarah Hamby of Kokomo, Indiana lost $ 300 a week in federal payments this summer after Republican Governor Eric Holcomb ended its benefits early. Humvee’s husband, 65, has been working all night on the press during the pandemic. But he may decide to join the ranks of those who retire earlier than they planned.

And 51-year-old Humvee may do it himself if he can’t find a job right away. The work she had for decades in the car factory has almost disappeared. Positions she considers available require skills she does not have. Still, she is not desperate for any job.

“I feel too old to be educated or trained to do other kinds of work,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t want to work in a computer or office like many of us have to do. So now I’m stuck in doing a job that’s too scarce. It’s worth it, or it’s physically too demanding, or I just don’t work. “

Nationwide, the proportion of women working or looking for work in September has declined for the second straight month, with many parents (mainly mothers) still managing childcare obligations to return to work. Indicates that it cannot be done. The number of nursery staff is decreasing and the care available is decreasing. Schools were also reopened for face-to-face learning, but frequent closures due to the outbreak of COVID caused confusion for some working parents.

Exacerbating labor shortages, a record number of people quit their jobs in August, spurring higher wage prospects elsewhere in some cases.

In Missouri, a group of companies suffering from labor shortages for more than three months after the state cut off the $ 300 weekly federal unemployment check said to Springfield’s sign, “Get your ass down!” I paid. And “Get.To.Work”.

The state has not seen an increase in the workforce since ending emergency benefits.

“We don’t know where people are,” said Brad Park, general manager of corner screen printing and embroidery in Greece, who helped pay for the sign. “Obviously they aren’t working. Apparently they are at home.”

Richard von Gran, policy director for the advocacy group Missouri Jobs with Justice, said that many bystanders of the job market want more profit and the flexibility to care for their children. Suggested that

“People don’t want to go back to the pre-pandemic job market,” said von Gran. “Employers are responsible for creating a working environment and providing packages that provide workers with the security they need.”

Wyoming now has fewer people in the workforce than it did when the state discontinued all emergency unemployment assistance. Wenlin Liu, chief economist at the State Economic Analysis Division, said last week that fears of being infected with COVID-19 could have discouraged some people from finding employment.

Wyoming is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates and has been a hotspot for COVID-19 since late summer. According to Liu, the surge in infectious diseases may have left some parents at home.

Republican Parliamentarian Landon Brown defended the federal unemployment aid cutoff.

“Wyoming isn’t interested in keeping the federal government keeping people away from work, and in some cases pays as much money as going home to get a job,” Brown said. Told.

Mississippi ended all emergency unemployment assistance on June 12. Still, there were fewer workers in August than in May. Last week’s job fair in Tupelo was attended by 60 companies, including the recruiter of VT Halter Marine, a shipbuilding company located 300 miles south. About 150-200 job seekers also participated, less than some companies expected.

Adam Todd held a job fair for the Mississippi Employment Safety Agency. This helps people find jobs and distribute unemployment benefits. “The agency has received a” call for despair “from companies that need to hire workers during a pandemic,” Todd said.

“We are at a different time than it was for a very long time,” Todd said. “The job seeker is really in the driver’s seat right now.”

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Smith is a corps member of the Associated Press / American Capitol News Initiative Report Report. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.

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Rugaber reported from Arlington, Virginia. Associated Press writers Emily Wagster Pettus of Jackson, Mississippi, Mead Gruver of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Summer Ballentine of Jefferson City, Missouri contributed to this report.

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