Republican-led states such as Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina are bringing federal unemployment benefits that were implemented during last year’s pandemic relief efforts to an end.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that by the end of June, his state will no longer partake in the extended weekly unemployment benefits under the Biden administration’s new $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. The governors of Montana and South Carolina revealed similar plans, claiming that these benefits have discouraged people from going back to work and have become a drag on the recovery. Florida is expected to follow a similar push from other Republican-led states in encouraging Americans to return to work. DeSantis explained, “Normally when you’re getting unemployment, the whole idea is that’s temporary, and you need to be looking for work to be able to get off unemployment.” He added, “It was a disaster, so we suspended those job search requirements. I think it’s pretty clear now, we have an abundance of job openings.”
This comes as U.S. jobs growth for April was far lower than what the market had predicted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs last month versus an estimate of 1 million. The economy is still 8.2 million jobs below pre-COVID levels. Businesses and organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have called on the Biden administration to end the unemployment benefits. However, President Joe Biden, when asked by a reporter whether the enhanced unemployment benefits had had any effect on the weak job numbers, said, “No, nothing measurable.” Democrats have argued that companies aren’t offering high enough wages or subsidized child care programs. Others say that last month’s job report suggests that Congress needs to pass Biden’s infrastructure bills.
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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