There are plenty of anecdotal examples to back up each side. But just what is happening in the labor market — and the effect of the contentious $300 weekly federal boost extended by Congress in the most recent March stimulus package — remains unclear.
About half of economists say they are uncertain whether the supplement is a major disincentive for lower-wage workers, according to a survey published last week by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Some 28% believe that it is, while 16% feel it is not.
The $300 boost, as well as two other pandemic programs that provide benefits to independent contractors and others who don’t typically qualify and to those who’ve run out of their regular state benefits, is scheduled to last until early September in the states that are continuing the programs.
What is known is that the extra federal payment means that some people are making more on unemployment than they did at their jobs. Estimates range from about 25% to around 40% of laid-off workers being in this situation.
What the jobless say
Though there were a record-high 8.1 million job openings, as of March, some workers say many of these positions pay too little or are too far away for them to afford to accept or that the postings require skills or certifications they don’t have.
And still others continue to have difficulty securing full-time childcare because their providers may have shuttered or limited enrollment or because their kids are still attending school remotely.
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