Last month’s employment report fell far short of expectations amid concerns by many state and local leaders that generous federal unemployment benefits have, in some cases, disincentivized a quick return to the job market.
In an apparent effort to address such a scenario, President Joe Biden issued a surprising directive to American workers this week: Accept a “suitable” job if one is offered or risk losing eligibility for continued unemployment benefits.
“Take the job or lose their unemployment benefits”
Biden’s ultimatum followed the jobs report released on Friday that showed only about 266,000 jobs were added in April after some predictions that the number might exceed 1 million.
A number of business owners and other advocates have pointed to expanded unemployment benefits as a contributing factor in the suppressed job market.
Biden attempted to frame the poor economic news in the best possible light for his administration while providing details into a few steps he plans to take in support of a continued recovery.
“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” the president said. “There are a few COVID-19-related exceptions so that people aren’t forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck, but, otherwise, that’s the law.”
Biden went on to assert that his administration does not “see much evidence” in support of the theory that “people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work,” declaring that “Americans want to work.”
“You can’t refuse that job”
Nevertheless, he maintained that existing laws must be enforced and no one should be allowed to “game the system” in pursuit of government assistance.
“Again, the law is clear: If you’re receiving unemployment benefits and you’re offered a suitable job, you can’t refuse that job and just keep getting the unemployment benefits,” he clarified.
As for its response, the White released a “fact sheet” on Monday that detailed steps the Biden administration is preparing to take as part of a plan to get Americans back to work.
Those steps will include daycare assistance so more parents could return to work, supporting state-level re-employment services, providing financial aid to service-industry businesses, assisting out-of-work government employees back on the job, extending a tax credit for small business related to hiring and retaining employees, and an allowance for part-time workers to draw partial unemployment benefits while searching for a full-time job.
The proposal could prove beneficial to the nation’s unemployed and seems to reflect a surprisingly sensible response from the president.