South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said his state will reject a federal bailout plan to increase unemployment benefits by $300, saying it would put the U.S. “on a socialist path.”
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that only 266,000 jobs were created in April, well below the expectations of economists and analysts. And Republican elected officials say that’s partly because the epidemic relief bill signed into law last year included an additional $300 a week in benefits.
On Monday (May 10), McMaster, a Republican, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, “The word is coming in everywhere looking for help, we’re getting calls, letters and texts from businesses and businesses from all walks of life across the state who are looking for people who can go to work.” Later, he scoffed that federal welfare is “the closest thing to socialism I’ve ever seen.”
The Republican governor added, “People don’t go to work because they can get just as much money, sometimes more, by staying home.” “We have a lot of people and businesses that are actively looking for employees every day and they can’t find them. Because people can receive the same paycheck right at home. …… Go get a job, go back to work, that’s how you build an economy, build a family and everything else.”
Economists at Bank of America estimate that people earning less than $32,000 a year could receive more income as a result of receiving unemployment benefits, spurring those people to not go to work, Bloomberg reported.
Several Republican governors have separately announced that their states will withdraw from the federal unemployment program.
On Monday (May 10), Kay Ivey, the Republican governor of Alabama, became the latest governor to withdraw from the program, saying it would end in mid-June.
In a statement, Ivey said, “As Alabama’s economy continues to recover, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available open positions despite many job openings.”
Arkansas, Mississippi and Montana also plan to stop the benefit program.
But at the same time, some Democrats and activist advocacy groups claim that unemployment assistance benefits don’t explain why some businesses can’t find employees.
“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence and reports that employers can’t find workers,” Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the left-wing Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a recent opinion piece. “But a closer look reveals that things may be far less simple than we see.”
Scheerholz and some other progressives believe people are not returning to work because of wage issues or because of health problems caused by the epidemic.
She said, “The latest job openings data show that unemployed workers have nearly 40 percent more job openings than the overall number of job openings and more than 80 percent more than those in the leisure and hospitality industry.”
Separately, President Joe Biden said Monday that increased unemployment benefits are not a factor in people not going looking for work.
Biden said at the White House that there is talk that “generous unemployment benefits are a major factor in the labor shortage. Americans want to work. Americans want jobs.” “I think people who claim that Americans wouldn’t go to work even if they found a good, fair job offer are underestimating the American people.”