The US economy is in a perplexing state of labor market purgatory. We have 9.3 million unfilled job openings, all while millions of Americans remain on unemployment benefits and millions more are opting out of the labor force entirely.
In short, a labor shortage is throttling the economic recovery. But why?
A new study published by the fiscally-conservative Committee to Unleash Prosperity offers a comprehensive examination of one of the labor shortage’s main causes: lucrative unemployment benefits. In March 2020, the federal government passed a “temporary” $600/week supplement on top of existing state-level unemployment payouts. It was reduced to a $300/week supplement in President Biden’s COVID-19 “stimulus” legislation but extended through September 2021.
Many conservative-leaning states have taken the initiative to suspend the excessive benefits early, but they are set to continue throughout the summer in dozens of states with Democratic governors. This new study finds that under the current benefits regime in conjunction with other welfare programs, households can earn the equivalent of $25/hour (assuming a 40 hour work week) by staying home with neither adult working.
In 19 states, a family of four with two parents who aren’t working can receive benefits roughly equal to a $100,000 annual salary. Across all 25 “blue” states choosing to leave the benefits in place, the average unemployment payout for a family of four exceeds $72,000, significantly more than the median household income of $68,703.