Why are so many jobs going unfilled? Where are all the workers?
As my PJ Media colleague Chris Queen reported on Saturday, “there are 10 job openings for every seven people seeking work” in America. But whyM even with offers of higher pay and better benefits, aren’t more workers getting off the couch and getting to work? The answer may lie in a complicated mixture of COVID fear, apathy, and financial pragmatism.
A new report by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) found that even though the pandemic is waning in most states, most states’ pandemic welfare benefits are now so generous that it makes financial sense for many of the unemployed to stay home rather than work. In other words, welfare pays millions of Americans better than working.
“Some states took action to address this labor crisis by ending the expanded federal unemployment benefits and bonuses earlier than their scheduled expiration date,” the FGA reports. And in those states, more people went back to work. However, the American economy continues to struggle because “COVID-19 has become an excuse to create and expand welfare programs that discourage work.”
Since the pandemic began, the U.S. Congress has “pumped nearly $5 trillion taxpayer dollars into COVID-19 ‘relief’ spending.” These programs have offered very little relief to the economy and have instead conditioned people to expect “regular monthly payments that, when combined, are far more lucrative than work.” These exorbitantly expensive welfare initiatives have “infected several significant government programs and threaten to tank the American economy” entirely.
Here’s a sampling of just a few of the government welfare programs that have been expanded since the pandemic began:
Child Tax Credits: The value of the child tax credit is now larger than “the most generous cash welfare payment that [a single parent with two dependents] family could receive.” It “has become welfare—with no incentive or requirement to work.”
Food Stamps: The Biden Administration has unilaterally—and potentially unlawfully—expanded welfare, “implementing the single-largest permanent increase in food stamp benefits in the history of the program.” Payouts are up 25% since before the pandemic and “with the indefinite suspension of work requirements” and the hike in benefits awarded, the program “has become an even greater trap for government dependency.”
ObamaCare Subsidies: “Since ObamaCare subsidies are usually distributed on an advanced basis to offset monthly premiums,” the pandemic expansions under the Biden Administration “are yet another extension of the welfare state into the lives of millions of Americans.”
Medicaid: States that accepted additional federal “Medicaid funds during the pandemic are blocked from raising cost-sharing, changing eligibility, or removing anyone from their Medicaid rolls—even if they have become ineligible.” This means there are now millions of Americans who “are ‘locked-in’ to Medicaid coverage that they no longer qualify for.”
All of these welfare programs has encouraged “the quiet growth of the welfare state” and they are holding back America’s economic recovery. Biden and the Democrats want to extend this harmful expansion of the welfare state with their destructive Build Back Better Act. Build Back Better will not only incentivize even more Americans to not work and remain dependent on the government, but it will also harm American workers and American families while simultaneously bankrupting the nation. Could that have been the plan all along?
It’s clear the states can’t wait for the federal government to turn off the welfare spigot. The states must let their pandemic welfare benefits expire and instead incentivize people to get back to work. Otherwise, the American economic recovery will continue to sputter and stagnate until it dies, taking us and everything we’ve worked for with it.