by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
People who lost their jobs in the pandemic are now earning more in benefits than they did in wages, creating a nightmare economic situation that is stopping people from returning to work and in turn, driving up inflation. …
… It means someone who was working 40 hours a week before the pandemic now gets nearly $16-an-hour to do nothing at home, which is more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Bank of America estimates that anyone who earned $32,000 before the pandemic can now get more from a combination of state and federal unemployment benefits. They are also allowed to claim benefits for up to 39 weeks – nearly a full year – whereas before, it was capped at 26 weeks. The average US salary in 2019 was $31,133.
It has created a scenario where restaurant workers, cleaners, retail workers and other people who slogged for minimum wage are simply choosing to stay at home because they earn more and are not put at risk of catching the virus.
Now, the only way for businesses to make up for it is by raising their prices – and Republicans are up in arms about the fast-paced inflation it is causing.
But on Friday, President Joe Biden said the answer was to spend more money. He claimed Americans are looking for work – despite there being some 9million unemployed – and that there just needed to be more jobs on the market.
He was slapped down immediately by economists, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Neil Bradley, who said: ‘The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market.’
A third of the country is now vaccinated and business owners are frantically trying to revive their profits but with no one there to fill the jobs, they’re unable to.