GOP Governors Compete to Make Life Worse for the Unemployed
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined the growing list of Republican governors who plan to block the federal boost to unemployment benefits for those who’ve lost their jobs in the pandemic.
With little proof, at least 23 GOP governors have said the additional $300 in weekly benefits disincentivizes people from going back to work. And instead of waiting until September when the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is scheduled to end, they’ve decided to deny their citizens the 100-percent federally funded benefits in June — the earliest date states are allowed to leave the program.
Additionally, DeSantis recently reinstated Florida’s unemployment benefits requirement that mandates recipients apply for five jobs per week.
“We reinstituted the job search requirement and now discontinued the added federal money, and the reason is simple: we’ve got almost half a million job openings in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Miami on Monday.
According to the progressive independent think tank The Century Foundation, not only will the cut in benefits hit people of color the hardest, but studies have also found that the benefits themselves and increases have little or no impact on employment.
“Unemployment benefits have a modest impact on the length of unemployment, with recent studies finding very modest elasticities between increases in unemployment benefit rates and the length of time unemployed,” Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the foundation wrote in a report.
Stettner went on to say that current research found similar results to studies done prior to the pandemic. “Careful economic research during the pandemic found that major changes in pandemic unemployment compensation, first from $600 to $300 in September, and then from $0 to $300 in January, had little impact either way on job-finding rates,” he said.
Importantly, Stettner notes that the claims of economic concerns do not consider that benefit recipients will spend federal unemployment benefits at local businesses, which generates “another $1.61 in economic activity for every dollar spent.”
Florida Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eskamani blasted DeSantis and the decision, calling his idea “terrible” and saying that her office is inundated with calls from Floridians who’ve had problems receiving the benefits.
“Terrible idea that feeds into Florida’s already broken unemployment system. We will remember this in November 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis,” Eskamani tweeted, adding, “We are still flooded with folks who have holds on their accounts and Floridians who are missing weeks if not months of benefits. It’s sad that the state prioritizes taking benefits away versus getting them to people in need.”