A new poll involving Americans and unemployment benefits solidifies for one researcher why the pandemic handouts should not be permanent.
The Morning Consult poll finds that nearly 1.8 million Americans have turned down jobs due to enhanced unemployment benefits. The numbers come amid concerns from politicians and private citizens that the extra money offered by the government is keeping people from returning to the workforce.
"It's wrong for the federal government to be encouraging workers to not accept jobs and to be actually actively competing against private sector businesses that are trying to recover from the pandemic," contends Rachel Greszler, research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements for The Heritage Foundation. "They're preventing them from getting the workers that they need to come in and to meet the demand that's out there."
Greszler adds that unemployment insurance in the United States is traditionally for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and for whom there is no available job.
"Now we hear of millions of people for whom there are jobs available. There's a record high 9.2 million jobs open in the United States," Greszler reports. "We've never seen that before, and yet you have millions of people who are still on unemployment insurance and who are collecting these benefits that are only supposed to be there if there are not jobs available for them."
President Biden and other supporters of the benefits believe more people would return to work if employers paid them more. But critics of that line of thinking point out that most employers had a terrible year in 2020 and cannot afford to pay workers more, as it risks losing business to consumers who would be forced to pay higher prices.