- The Chamber of Commerce is urging an end to the $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit in the Biden stimulus law.
- The business lobby group argues the state is “paying people not to work,” citing April’s dismal jobs report.
- Democrats and many economists dispute that, arguing jobs were still created with the benefits in place.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Chamber of Commerce called for an end to the $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit in the stimulus law on Friday, assailing it as an obstacle to the economic recovery. The influential business group cited April’s dismal jobs report that showed payrolls had not kept up with March’s encouraging pace.
“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” the chamber’s chief policy officer, Neal Bradley, said in a statement. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic.”
The latest jobs report released on Friday showed the economy recovering 266,000 jobs in April, a massive miss from the median estimate of 1 million or more new payrolls, shocking many economists.
It was a sharp decrease from the 770,000 jobs regained in March, a figure that was revised downward in this jobs report. The economy remains 8.2 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.
The $300 federal unemployment benefit was a key part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package enacted by President Joe Biden in March. The law extended jobless benefits at the same level until Labor Day. Republicans and business groups opposed it, arguing it would keep people from returning to work as they could earn more money unemployed.
Biden dismissed the prospect the federal jobless aid was stymying job growth, saying it was “nothing measurable.”
Many economists and Democrats dispute the charge that federal unemployment benefits are keeping laid-off people on the sidelines, pointing to job gains when the benefits were already in place.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement warning against an end to government jobless aid. He said that step “could cause tremendous financial pain and sabotage our economic recovery.”
“Tackling challenges like child care, rather than scapegoating workers, is going to boost our economic recovery,” he said.