American workers’ fear of contracting coronavirus while on the job has hit a pandemic low as the economy continues its steady recovery.
The number of Americans not working due to their fear of getting the virus while at their job dipped to 3.05 million by the end of June, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey released Wednesday. The figure hit its peak in July 2020 when 6.24 million unemployed Americans reported not looking for a job due to coronavirus fears, Axios reported.
“People are feeling safer about returning to work, which should help businesses staff-up to meet the tremendous demand we’re seeing right now,” Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House told Axios.
Since January, the U.S. economy has added roughly 2.4 million jobs and jobless claims have hit multiple pandemic lows as the economy has slowly recovered, government data showed. However, because of slower-than-expected jobs growth in April and May, conservatives have criticized generous government unemployment benefits, which they said was incentivizing people not to look for work.
More than 20 states have since withdrawn from the federal program implemented by the stimulus package that President Joe Biden signed into law in March, Fox Business reported. The program, which isn’t set to expire until September, gives unemployed Americans a $300 weekly bonus in addition to regular unemployment payments. (RELATED: Jobless Claims Hit New Pandemic Low, Plummet To 364,000)
“From conversations with business owners across the state, we know that they are struggling not because of COVID-19 but because of labor shortages resulting from these excessive federal unemployment programs,” Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in May.
However, the White House and some economists have pointed to other factors such as child care and persisting coronavirus fears for the slow job growth.
“There just isn’t strong evidence to suggest that enhanced jobless benefits are a major drag on the jobs recovery,” Oxford Economics’ lead economist Oren Klachkin told Axios. “Health conditions are the most important factor for labor market healing.”
Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have declined precipitously throughout the spring and summer, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 273 new coronavirus-related deaths and 14,875 new cases.
The U.S. has administered more than 326 million vaccinations, meaning 54% of the population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC.
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