Commentary: Unemployment Benefits Are Causing America’s Worker Shortage

These days, storefronts are adorned with “Now Hiring” and “Help Wanted” signs. Local family-owned businesses and restaurants are announcing reduced business hours and even closures, often citing a lack of employees. And many post signs imploring customers to be patient as fewer workers mean longer wait times.

A new jobs report released this week shows there are now more than 11 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. Where have the workers gone? Thanks to the Biden administration, millions are staying at home, where they’re given financial incentives not to return to the workforce. What started off as temporary measures to alleviate the pains of the pandemic have instead become a nearly two-year economic reality.

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COVID Restrictions’ Impact on Pennsylvania Still Felt, Forecasted to Persist

Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) on Monday issued a report on the state’s economy indicating COVID-era restrictions continue to make a negative impact.

The IFO composed the report to inform lawmakers as they begin a series of state budget hearings this week. The agency observes that the Keystone State’s labor-force-participation rate is at its lowest in 37 years and forecasts that jobs numbers won’t return to their December-2019 apex for at least another three years.

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Georgia Man, in Las Vegas, Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Obtaining Over $170,000 In Unemployment Insurance Benefits

handful of money

A Lawrenceville, Georgia, man has pleaded guilty in Las Vegas to fraudulently obtaining more than $170,000 in unemployment benefits.

That man, Robert Devon Barber, 25, did this by submitting multiple unemployment claims in other people’s names and using benefits debit cards not belonging to him.

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Tennessee State Representatives Grills and Zachary Propose Bill that Would Provide Unemployment Benefits to Workers Who Quit over Vaccine Mandates

Tennessee lawmakers in the General Assembly introduced a bill Friday that would ensure that Tennesseans who quit their jobs over vaccine mandates receive unemployment benefits. Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) is sponsoring the bill while Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) signed on as a co-sponsor.

Currently, voluntarily quitting a job typically disqualifies someone from receiving unemployment. In some cases, the vaccine requirements, including from President Biden, include a weekly COVID-19 testing option.

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Judge: Extra Unemployment Benefits Not Restored in Ohio

A Franklin County judge ruled Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has the power to stop extra federal unemployment payments, denying an attempt to restore the weekly $300 payments that he stopped in late June.

Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook denied the request from former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would have restored the benefits that the federal government plans to end on Labor Day.A Franklin County judge ruled Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has the power to stop extra federal unemployment payments, denying an attempt to restore the weekly $300 payments that he stopped in late June.

Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook denied the request from former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would have restored the benefits that the federal government plans to end on Labor Day.

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Tennessee’s Weekly Unemployment Claims Jump, but Continuing Claims Decline

Tennessee’s weekly jobs report shows that while continuing unemployment claims dropped for the third week in a row, new unemployment claims jumped slightly. 

According to the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, during the week of June 26 there were 4,970 unemployment claims, a spike of 254 claims statewide from the previous week. But overall, unemployment claims dropped from 50,671 to 49,909, a drop of 762. 

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Michigan Senate Votes to End $300 Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefits

The Michigan Senate voted 19-16 to approve House Bill 4434, which aims to end the state’s participation in boosted $300/week federal unemployment program.

Republicans have argued the benefit hinders economic recovery 15 months after the pandemic started.

Business owners told lawmakers on June 17 they can’t find workers, even after hiking pay, signing bonuses, and flexible hours. Some industries have seen as many as 35% of workers not return post-COVID-19, leaving some gas stations wondering if they’ll get enough gas.

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First Democratic State Will End Its Unemployment Benefits

John Bel Edwards

Louisiana will be the first Democratic-controlled state to roll back its $300 a week unemployment benefits enacted by federal programs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill Wednesday that stops the weekly payments on July 31, but raises Louisiana’s maximum jobless benefits to $275, starting in 2022, according to the legislation.

Louisiana is joined by 25 other Republican led states that have prematurely slashed the weekly pandemic benefits from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which were not set to expire until Sept. 6, 2021. Jobless claims were up 412,000 last week, according to the Department of Labor.

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Samantha Fillmore of the Heartland Institute Explains the ‘Asphyxiation of the American Economy’

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the Heartland Institute’s State Government Relations Manager Samantha Fillmore to the newsmakers line to discuss the calculated stifling of America’s workforce through excessive unemployment legislation.

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‘In Survival Mode’: Michigan Business Owners Say Boosted Benefits Disrupting Industries

Michigan business owners say federal $300/week boosted unemployment benefits are exacerbating a worker shortage partly caused by COVID-19 fears.

Roy Baldwin, owner of Baldwin’s Smokehouse Barbecue in Buena Vista Township, says COVID-19, rising food prices, and a worker shortage have hit his store hard. Since opening his store in 2019, he says food product prices have doubled.

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Governor DeSantis Announces Reinstatement of Work Search Requirements

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that on May 30th, he will be reinstating the work search requirements for jobless Floridians seeking unemployment benefits. In April, DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) extended the work search waivers through May 29th which allows applicants to receive benefits without reporting their weekly search for jobs to the DEO in the form of job applications.

Before the waivers were established in March 2020, individuals who were unemployed and looking for benefits had to complete and report five job applications to a registered career center or directly to the DEO. With the reinstatement of the work search requirements at the end of the month, and the denial of SB 1906 that would have increased the amount of weekly benefits and decreased the number of job applications required to report on a weekly basis, the process in attaining unemployment benefits will go back to how it was before the pandemic. 

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Florida Restaurants Face Labor Shortage as COVID Unemployment Benefits Flow

The federal government is standing in the way of Florida restaurants that are in desperate need of employees as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, and Floridians look to dine out. 

“The biggest challenge out there is the federal government and the state government are going to continue with this unemployment, because that is truly creating the incentive to not work right now,” said Bill Casper, who owns 60 McDonald’s restaurants in the Tampa area. “And, how do you blame somebody? You can make more money on unemployment—and so, we’ve got to be at least above that.”

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FL Senate Votes 40-0 to Approve Increased Unemployment Benefits

On Thursday April 22, 2021, The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill (SB 1906) that will increase the benefits for unemployed Floridians. From a maximum weekly payment of $275 to $375, the bill also increases the maximum amount of weeks a recipient can receive these benefits  from 12 weeks to 14 weeks and is calculated monthly rather than annually. The maximum amount of benefits a recipient receives in a benefit year jumps from $6,325 to $9,375.

As far as aspects of the bill regarding recipient application, it allows for applicants to use a “base period” that is different than the one that the individual is in, at the time of applying. Instead of the required base period that includes the wages made in the last year up until the time of the application, an applicant can now choose the most recent base period that is prior to the one that the he or she is in.

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Virginia NFIB: Business Is Improving, but Employers Are Having Trouble Filling Positions

As the country emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, small businesses are doing better, according to a March report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). However, uncertainty about the next few months for business owners is still high, and businesses are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill positions.

“Virginia’s small businesses are working hard on their recovery but are struggling to find the right workers to fill open positions,” NFIB Virginia State Director Nicole Riley said in a Wednesday press release

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New Jobless Claims Decrease to 730,000, Economists Expected 845,000

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 730,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Feb. 13, in which there were 841,000 new jobless claims reported. That number was revised down from the 861,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

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New Jobless Claims Increase to 861,000, Economists Expected 773,000

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 861,000 last week as the economy continued to suffer the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented an increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Feb. 6, in which there were 848,000 new jobless claims reported. That number was revised up from the 793,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

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Virginia House Passes Bill Extending Unemployment to People Who Can’t Work Due to COVID-19

The House of Delegates passed a bill meant to protect employees from losing unemployment benefits for some employees who can’t work due to COVID-19.  It includes a key provision that provides unemployment benefits for people who don’t go to work because they believe their employer is not following COVID-19 safety standards.

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Sen. Warner: New Relief Bill Will Likely Include $600 Stimulus Checks, Less Unemployment Coverage

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) is confident that the Senate will soon pass the two-part COVID-19 relief package he helped develop. In a Thursday telephone press conference, Warner described key provisions of the plan and addressed controversy over a stimulus check added to the package while also limiting provisions to extend federal unemployment benefits past Christmas.

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Extended Unemployment Benefits Federal Program Ending in Virginia

Approximately 20,000 Virginians who have been relying on extended unemployment benefits over the last several months amidst the coronavirus pandemic will no longer receive those payments come Saturday. 

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced Wednesday that it has been notified by the U.S. Department of Labor that the Extended Benefits Program in Virginia will end on November 21. 

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Commentary: 4.4 Million Lose Unemployment Benefits Since August as Pelosi Puts Politics Above People

Small business relief, supporting 5.2 million small businesses and 50 million jobs, ran out on Aug. 8 and airlines ran out of money last month as massive layoffs have been ensuing.

In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to refuse a deal from President Donald Trump to extend these CARES Act programs — even if it means she loses a few seats in the House over it.

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Lawmakers Approve COVID-19 Liability Bills, Extend Unemployment Benefits, and Nursing Home Policy Changes

After a session exceeding 12 hours, Michigan lawmakers passed bills replacing a framework for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders deemed unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Lawmakers approved measures aiming to allow local governments to meet electronically for any reason through Jan. 1; extend unemployment benefits to a full 26 weeks; change nursing home policy barring nursing homes from caring for COVID-19 patients unless the building provides a “designated area” for those patients; and, by Nov. 15, implement a statewide policy allowing in-person visitations for all nursing home residents.

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Virginia Government Asking Citizens to Repay Thousands in Pandemic Unemployment Claims

Virginians are reporting letters from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) asking for repayment of unemployment claims due to VEC error.
The government hasn’t made any exceptions for the VEC’s errors resulting in overpayments – even with the mandatory shutdowns throughout this pandemic.

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Thousands of Ohioans Must Return Unemployment Overpayments

Around 48,000 Ohioans were notified they received an overpayment of unemployment benefits during the pandemic and must repay the state, The Associated Press reported.

That’s about 6% of the nearly 800,000 Ohioans who have been paid regular unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic in March, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

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Trump Signs Executive Orders to Extend Unemployment Benefits, Suspend Some Payroll Taxes, Defer

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed executive orders to supplement unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic by $400 a week and suspend payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000 a year.

He also signed orders freezing evictions in federal housing and deferring student loan payments through the end of 2020.

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Michigan Investigates Alleged Shakedown By Unemployment Agency Workers Accused of Stealing Benefits

The State of Michigan is investigating whether new employees of the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) are stealing funds from jobless residents, multiple media outlets report.

The workers are accused of stealing and charging clients to receive their benefits more quickly, WDIV reported. This is happening even as Michigan is among several states experiencing fraudulent claims being submitted, and they temporarily stopped payments.

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Foundation Says Breach of Unemployment Claimants’ Data Causes Loss of Public Trust in Ohio Government

With the data breach exposing the information of unemployed Ohioans, one foundation is saying that the government’s failure to address known flaws with the benefits system means the public has lost trust in the state.

Deloitte Consulting is handling pandemic unemployment assistance claims for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. At least 130,000 independent contractors who filed 1099 forms but have not yet received benefits had their information, including addresses and social security numbers exposed on the Deloitte system, WLWT reported.

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COVID-19 Unemployment Claims Approach 39 Million Since Mid-March

Even as much of the country eases restrictions and slowly begins to reopen state economies, new jobless claims continued their COVID-19 spike last week, increasing the total number of those filing for unemployment benefits to nearly 39 million since mid-March.

According to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor, an additional 2.44 million workers filed for benefits in the week ending May 16. That’s down 249,000 from the revised number of claims filed in the week ending May 9.

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Ohio Unemployment Tops 1.1 Million in Seven Weeks Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

The state of Ohio has more than 1.1 million people who have filed unemployment claims in the past seven weeks as Ohio’s stay-at-home led to widespread layoffs – which has more than the combined total for the last three years – the US Department of Labor reported Thursday.

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Tennessee Says Unemployment Filings Went Down in Second Week of March, But That Was Before the Lockdown

In a “what the heck” moment, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development on Thursday said unemployment filings for two-thirds of counties went down for the second week of March.

The filings were for March 8-14, just before the Chinese coronavirus took a toll.

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Another 108,801 People File for Unemployment Claims in Ohio, Many Residents Still Waiting on Unemployment Checks

Ohio saw another 108,801 people file for unemployment claims last week, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

Nationally, America saw 4.4 million people file for unemployment benefits as people continue to lose jobs due to state lockdown orders, the Department of Labor numbers show.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck havoc on Ohio’s economy as 964,566 Ohioans have asked for government assistance over the last five weeks. During this same time period, more than 26 million people have filed for unemployment assistance, according to PBS.

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