A member of President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors said Tuesday that governors ending federal unemployment insurance is a mistake and warned that Americans will face increased economic hardship as a result.
“I do think it’s the wrong decision,” Jared Bernstein, a member on the council, said on “Bloomberg Surveillance.” He warned that states’ decisions to no longer participate in federal unemployment insurance programs would increase economic hardship for residents and labor market outcomes would not change regardless of the move to cease benefits. (RELATED: Biden Directly Confronts Republicans’ Accusations That Unemployment Benefits Keep People Unemployed)
Alabama plans to end its participation “in all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs” on June 19, which include $300 checks to Americans, Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced in a Monday press release. Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina and Arkansas will also stop taking part in the unemployment programs, according to various statements from states’ governors.
The U.S. added just 266,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.1%. In response Biden said Friday that last month’s weak figures needed to be put into “perspective” and “it’s clear we have a long way to go.”
On Monday, the president denied Republican claims that federal unemployment benefits played a major role in last month’s jobs report, saying that these arguments “underestimate the American people.” He also pledged to make it clear that people on unemployment benefits should not decline suitable job offers and those who continue to receive must have COVID-19 related exemptions.
Bernstein touted Biden’s response to the lagging job numbers, arguing that it was the correct choice to remove obstacles for people returning to work, mainly by addressing childcare and also ensuring that unemployment benefits are not misused by recipients.
“If people are offered a suitable job, the rules say they need to take it, and suitable by the way, means a job that enables them to go back to work safely and recognizes that people have childcare obligations that they can’t always meet,” he said.
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