Due to the $2 trillion dollar CARES Act passed by Congress, many people receiving unemployment benefits are earning more than they would have at their place of employment. As states reopen and businesses slowly resume, some business owners bemoan the coronavirus unemployment benefit increase, saying it deters employees from wanting to return to work. Currently, 30 million people – or roughly 1 in 5 employed earlier this year – have filed unemployment claims.
Republican House Representatives warned against continued relief efforts earlier on, noting that there could be negative long term side effects.
“[We’ve] got to help them, but at the moment we go back to work, we cannot create an incentive not to work. We cannot be paying people more money on unemployment than they get paid in their job,”Senator Rick Scott.
Other GOP members agreed that benefits should have been maxed out at what employees were currently making. As states allow some businesses to reopen, business owners fear the expanded benefits may hinder employees from wanting to return to work. However, Rep. Senator Chuck Grassley’s spokesperson said the additional $600 weekly across-the-board was necessary in order to get the benefits out as quickly as possible. He noted, “It’s also important to remember that nobody who voluntarily leaves an available job is eligible for UI.” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio echoed this by agreeing the most important thing was getting relief to people quickly. Eric Morath from The Wall Street Journal reported, “The issue is an unintended consequence of an understandably rushed relief bill…Democrats wanted ‘unemployment benefits on steroids’ and Republicans wanted loans tied to workers staying on payrolls.”
Democratic lawmakers are urging the continuation of the nations’ stay-home orders, expressing concern that we are not yet out of the woods amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Governors who have reopened their states’ economies have received backlash from the Left, with critics saying they are putting their citizen’s safety in jeopardy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for another phase of federal relief for those out of work. She called the plan “essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting.” Regarding the increased unemployment benefits, Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project, said normally it would have been unthinkable to provide such unemployment benefits, but added “We needed a policy mechanism to do something that unemployment insurance doesn’t usually do, and that’s keep people home.”