It’s popular wisdom that the enhanced unemployment benefits under COVID relief are inhibiting economic recovery. As the thinking goes, people are lazy and choosing not to work because they make more per month from their unemployment insurance. There’s some evidence that enhanced benefits are actually not stopping people from seeking work, but can you really blame those people are opting for the higher income? My brother shared on Facebook this morning the post shown here. A person commented that “The same people who applauded [Trump] when he proclaimed that he didn’t pay any taxes and that made him SMART are now criticizing people who can have a better income on unemployment than by working a sh!t job.”
People have been doing pretty well with enhanced benefits as shown in one chart from CNBC. Regardless which course a person chooses — go back to work or collect unemployment — this situation reveals a critical truth. CBS News reported on the findings of a study by the Brookings Institution. “Most of the 53 million Americans working in low-wage jobs are adults in their prime working years, or between about 25 to 54, they noted. Their median hourly wage is $10.22 per hour — that’s above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour but well below what’s considered the living wage for many regions.” This popular meme puts it succinctly!
From a political perspective, it’s best for workers to be physically together on a job where they have the opportunity and potential to organize collectively in a fight for better wages and working conditions. At the same time, those individuals who choose to stay out may well be making a sound financial decision in this moment and circumstance.