The Department of Labor reported only 266,000 jobs were added in April, which is much lower than anticipated, and the unemployment rate for last month was at 6.1%.
You’d think after hearing those numbers, the demand for employment would be higher, especially with more people getting vaccinated and parts of the country easing back restrictions. But we’re seeing examples of the opposite play out all over the country – it’s the front-page story: “Tepid job growth inflames a debate over U.S. Benefits.”
Job listings in sectors like manufacturing, live-event production, restaurants, and construction are going unanswered, forcing companies to sweeten the pot. For example, a McDonald’s in butler county, Pennsylvania is offering a $500 bonus upon hire. A McDonald’s in Florida is paying people $50 just to show up for a job interview. A Sonic in Albuquerque, New Mexico and a Chicken Express in Texas sported signs on their drive-thru windows, warning customers to be patient with them given quote “no one wants to work anymore.”
And as concerts and live events resurrect after more than a year, The Wall Street Journal reports roadies have taken their skills elsewhere, leaving venues worried they won’t find qualified people to take their places.
A restaurateur in Bucks County, PA called into my radio program yesterday to share his hiring struggles and how it’s affecting his bottom line.
“I literally turned down reservations, I cut off all takeout — I just left so much on the table because ultimately there’s no way I could have given good service with the amount of staff… I’ve literally spent over a thousand dollars on ads with ‘Indeed’ in the last month… I’ll have an ad out for weeks and get two applicants… I literally have 30, 40 servers in my phone that are not working and do not want to work…”
So, it seems the labor force wields all the leverage – let’s break down the numbers…
Those receiving unemployment benefits get three hundred dollars a week from the federal government on top of state unemployment benefits, which the labor department says averages to $318 a week. That’s $618 a week in total on average, which equates to more than $15 an hour, until September when the benefits are set to expire. Plus the three stimulus checks given out over the past year, ranging from $600 to $1400 each.
It’s worth noting too that to receive these unemployment benefits, people aren’t required to prove they’re actively looking for a job. Some states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Idaho are trying to change that. With South Carolina and Montana ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits altogether for its residents starting next month.
Here’s what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had to say about the issue:
“We’ve been so generous with our plus-ups to unemployment insurance and the checks we’ve been sending everybody that a great many of Kentuckians and Americans look at the situation and find they’re better off financially to stay home rather than to go back to work.”
The President yesterday said otherwise when speaking to reporters:
Biden: The data shows that more workers, more workers are looking for jobs, and many can’t find them. Well, jobs are coming back. There are still millions of people out there looking for work.”
Reporter: Do you believe enhanced unemployment benefits had any effect on diminishing a return to work in some categories?
Biden: No, nothing measurable
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce disagrees. The business lobbying group called for an end to the $300-a-week federal unemployment benefits on Friday, claiming the disappointing jobs report numbers clearly show people are not incentivized enough to go back to work.
So is the government being too generous? And will the jobs we see open today be there come September?
Using the perfect blend of analysis and humor, Michael Smerconish delivers engaging, thought-provoking, and balanced dialogue on today’s political arena and the long-term implications of the polarization in politics. In addition to his acclaimed work as nationally syndicated Sirius XM Radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and New York Times best-selling author, Michael Smerconish hosts CNN’s Smerconish, which airs live on Saturday at 9:00 am ET.