These states, all led by Republican governors, are thumbing down billions of dollars in benefits as they feel that additional jobless assistance is unnecessary at this point.
Removing Additional Unemployment Benefits
At stake are the unemployment benefits of an extra $300 per week from the federal government. Many states feel at this point that the country’s current economic state can take on more workers and jobs.
Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland announced on Tuesday that will join 24 other states in halting the extra unemployment benefits, a few months before the scheduled program ends in September.
Hogan said that while the program gave “important temporary relief” during the pandemic, Maryland won’t need it as both vaccines and jobs are in relatively good supply.
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Many politicians and lobby groups say that the extra $300/week benefits are making workers turn down good job opportunities. As a result, many companies who are gearing up to reopen are left without enough workers.
Democrats Want Benefits To Last Until September
Meanwhile, the administration of President Joe Biden and other Democrats argue otherwise. They insist that the unemployment benefits help workers who cannot go out and work just yet.
They point out to workers that they will have to leave their children alone at home. There are also some workers who remain hesitant to get back to workplaces that became COVID-19 flashpoints earlier last year.
The US is still 7 million Americans away from their targeted herd immunity of 70 million vaccinated.
In addition, the 25 states who dropped the unemployment benefits set different end dates for the program. Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri will cease issuing $300 checks on June 12.
The other states will stop by July 10. All jobless workers will still receive regular unemployment benefits, which can vary from state to state.
Unemployed Should Take Suitable Jobs
Ultimately, the White House said it will not contest the states’ decision to drop their unemployment benefits. Administration officials said that unemployed people shouldn’t refuse jobs outright and should take suitable ones.
“Our view is that it’s going to take time for workers to regain confidence in the safety of the workplace, re-establish childcare, school, and commuting arrangements, and finish getting vaccinated,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
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Based on May 8 Department of Labor records, around 2.8 million people were collecting pandemic benefits in the 25 states terminating the program in the next few weeks.
In contrast, job postings are booming throughout the United States, even as job growth in April fell way below expectations.
Americans Approve Cutting Off Extra Jobless Benefits
Even as administration officials warned against the rush to kill the extra jobless benefits, surveys said that a majority of Americans approve the decision.
A Quinnipiac poll conducted last month said that 54% of Americans agree states should cut off the extra benefits early.
During the pandemic, surplus money helped keep the American economy afloat even as businesses shut down. Personal income rose while household savings increased as well.
Many people went on spending sprees with their extra cash. However, the extra unemployment benefits led to the odd circumstance of many workers earning more on unemployment than in their jobs.
Watch the PBS NewsHour report on a look at the US labor shortage. Are unemployment benefits keeping Americans home?
Do you agree with the states that decided to terminate their extra unemployment benefits early? Is the economy ready to take on more workers?
Let us know what you think. Share your comments in the comments section below.