Nearly One-Third Of Unemployment Recipients Turned Down Jobs During Pandemic, Poll Finds

Topline

Amid reports of widespread labor shortages throughout the U.S., roughly three out of every ten recipients of unemployment insurance say they turned down job offers during the pandemic, with 45% of those citing the generosity of unemployment benefits as a primary reason for their decision, according to Morning Consult poll results released Wednesday.

Key Facts

Of those respondents who turned down job offers, the most common reason for the decision was child-care obligations, followed by coronavirus-related concerns.

Just 20% of recipients who previously worked full time and 28% of workers who previously worked part-time indicated the money they receive from unemployment benefits better covers their basic expenses than the income they earned while gainfully employed.

Nearly 70% of unemployment recipients surveyed said their benefits would expire by the end of August.

The Morning Consult survey was conducted among 5,000 U.S. adults from June 22–25.

Big Number:

1.84 million. With 14.1 million adults collecting benefits as of June 19, Morning Consult estimates unemployment insurance benefits reduced the number of accepted job offers by 1.84 million over the course of the pandemic.

Key Background:

The continued deliberation over how to address labor supply shortages in the U.S. has raged for months. In May, more than two dozen states began efforts to prematurely end the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits program, which provides an extra $300 a week to jobless Americans. The $300 supplement was initially authorized by executive order under then-President Trump last year and extended by Congress as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Many GOP lawmakers argued the stimulus spending was excessive and that benefits effectively disincentivized workers to search for new jobs. A total of 26 states are planning to have eliminated extra unemployment benefits by July 31. Of the 26 states, 25 have Republican governors. 

Tangent:

In June, Goldman Sachs analysts pointed out that because the states ending the benefits early only account for 29% of total pandemic job losses, pressures on the labor market are expected to continue until the benefits expire nationwide in September. Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley economists said cutting the $300 weekly benefit had minimal impact on the labor market. “It appears that generous unemployment benefits are likely no more of a factor than other impediments, including childcare, transportation and health concerns, to workplace re-entry,” the report stated. In a note to their clients to clients last month, JPMorgan economists said the early end to unemployment insurance looks “tied to politics, not economics.”

Crucial Quote: 

“The temporary boost in unemployment benefits . . . helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are still maybe in the process of getting vaccinated, but it’s going to expire in 90 days,” President Biden said May. “That makes sense.”

Further Reading:

States Ending $300 Unemployment Benefits Haven’t Boosted Labor Market Yet, Morgan Stanley Finds (Forbes) 

Here’s What Could Happen When $300 Unemployment Expires, According To Goldman Sachs (Forbes)

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