Report: 1.8 Million Americans Have Turned Down Jobs To Stay On Unemployment
Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new poll indicates that 1.8 million Americans have turned down job offers in order to stay on unemployment insurance.

Morning Consult surveyed 463 out-of-work American adults at the end of June. 13% — roughly one in eight — said that they had refused job offers while unemployed because they “receive enough money from unemployment insurance without having to work.” Others said that child care obligations, worries over COVID-19, and a lack of job flexibility limited their willingness to take new positions.

Because 14.1 million adults were collecting benefits at the time of the survey, Morning Consult calculated that roughly 1.8 million Americans turned down jobs due to the handouts.

Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the federal government funded $300-per-week enhanced unemployment insurance — a policy that has caused sluggish labor market recovery. Twenty-six states — all but one of which are led by Republicans — have therefore opted out of the program. 

As personal finance company WalletHub recently found, nine of the ten states with the most robust labor market recoveries — Vermont, Utah, Nebraska, South Dakota, Idaho, New Hampshire, Alabama, Kansas, Montana, and Oklahoma — have Republican governors. Meanwhile, all of the bottom ten — Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, Nevada, New York, New Mexico, and Hawaii — are run by Democrats. 

Another recent report explained that many blue states are offering benefit packages “equivalent to $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with two unemployed parents.” Even without considering “food stamps, school breakfast and lunch programs, rental assistance, and the fact that some unemployment benefits are not subject to federal income tax,” analysts discovered that “the maximum benefit package when including the $300 a week supplemental UI benefit” vastly outweighs median household income.

The Federal Reserve’s semiannual report to Congress implicated federal unemployment insurance as one cause of labor market distortions — although the central bank refrained from urging policymakers to rescind it:

With economic activity rebounding, labor demand rose briskly in the spring, while the supply of labor struggled to keep up. Employers reported widespread hiring difficulties, job openings jumped to about 30 percent above the average level for 2019, and the ratio of job openings to job seekers surged… enhanced unemployment benefits have allowed potential workers to be more selective and reduce the intensity of their job search.

Some businesses have therefore resorted to offering signing bonuses, retention bonuses, and other incentives for employees who are willing to work. Job listing company Indeed revealed in June that the number of postings on their site with such perks climbed to 4.1% — more than double the percentage listed in June 2020.

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