Many factors with difficulty in filling job openings

Posted 14 May 2021 at 2:01 pm


Congressman Chris Jacobs is quick to blame The American Rescue Plan and pandemic stimulus payments for disincentivizing workers, without evidence. It is true that there are about 9.7 million Americans actively looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and businesses, especially in the service sector face an inability to hire workers.

The cause, however, is unclear. The evidence for blaming The American Rescue Plan is only anecdotal. In fact, there are several studies looking at the $600 of unemployment insurance paid out last year that dispute the Republicans’ claim. One study by Joseph Altonji et. al. at Yale University reported: “The findings suggest that, in the aggregate, the expanded benefits neither encouraged layoffs during the pandemic’s onset nor deterred people from returning to work once businesses began reopening.”

Another study by the Federal Reserve of San Francisco reported: “The findings in this Letter suggest that the $600 UI, (unemployment insurance), benefit supplement in the CARES Act had little or no effect on the willingness of unemployed people to search for work or accept job offers.”

Recent studies point to other reasons people are not looking for work. Aaron Sojourner, a University of Minnesota economist found a correspondent between people worrying about the virus and seeking jobs. “The first-order issue is the virus, and if that’s what caused the crisis, then it is also the path out of the crisis,” said Professor Sojourner.

No one wants to get a deadly virus slinging burgers. While government should get everyone back to work, it should not force employees to work with the general public when those in the general public feel it is their right to put the health of those employees at risk. (Refusing to wear a face mask or get a vaccination maybe your right but your deadly germs stop at my nose and thus you have no right to be in public).

Another possible reason why people may not be seeking employment is family care concerns. The Census Household Pulse survey showed that in late March about 14 percent of adults were not looking for work because they had to take care of a child not in school or an older person.

Further studies are needed to substantiate the cause of unemployment while businesses are looking for workers. What is clear is using anecdotal evidence is the knee jerk, lazy reaction of Republicans more interested in grabbing headlines and soundbites than solving problems.

William Fine