The unemployment crisis should not be a state issue

This is no time for federalism

The United States.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

Doing unemployment well is oxymoronic. Joblessness, as Pope Francis put it some years ago in an address to workers in Sardinia, "wears you out to the depths of your soul." There are no good circumstances under which millions of Americans might find themselves deprived not only of their wages but even of their ability to pursue employment.

This does not excuse the horrifying reality of the present, where workers in state after state have found themselves waiting on benefits as agency websites crash and bureaucrats politely suggest that they consider waiting to apply until the servers have had a chance to rest. The basic pattern has been the same across the country. Both widely praised governors such as Democrats Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and those who have been reviled in the national media — mostly southern Republicans — alike struggled to keep their state unemployment agencies functioning. While it would be absurd to suggest that our governors deserve no blame for this, there is a real sense in which this was inevitable.

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