Jobless in America
More than seven million unemployed people are losing jobless benefits Monday as three federal programs for people who lost work during the pandemic expire. Another three million people are losing a $300 weekly boost to their state unemployment benefits.
While President Joe Biden has said states can use federal relief funds to extend the assistance programs after Labor Day, none are taking him up on the suggestion, CNN reports.
Friday's August jobs report showed that U.S. employers added just 235,000 positions during the month, falling far short of the 720,000 economists had expected. There are some 10 million jobs currently available in the United States.
Will pulling the plug on the jobless benefits nudge people back into the workforce? Not necessarily. As CNN notes, in states that ended the benefits early, the labor markets didn't see much improvement, suggesting the problem comes down to more than people preferring to collect government checks than get a job. Millions cite childcare problems as their reason for not returning to work; others say they're afraid of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Indeed, the ending of the jobless aid comes as a coronavirus surge driven by the highly infectious Delta variant threatens to derail the economic recovery. "Ultimately, the Delta variant wave is a harsh reminder that the pandemic is still in the driver's seat, and it controls our economic future," said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at jobs site Glassdoor.