OAKLAND, Calif. - Labor Day 2021 may be remembered as the day millions of Americans lost all their unemployment support well before the economy fully recovered. So, we looked at the numbers past, present and future.
As of Monday, two million of three million unemployed Californians have lost their federal unemployment benefits cold turkey.
"That means the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the program for independent contractors ended, the extended benefits, those over 26 weeks ended as well as the $300 per week supplement for all workers," said labor lawyer and former Employment Development Department Director Michael Bernick.
That has already occurred in 26 other states that chose to end federal benefits early in an effort to get people to go back to work; some pundits citing laziness as the reason people kept staying home.
While it is true, return to work has stepped up a bit in those states, it has proven very difficult to place people in open jobs to a mismatch of skills, aptitudes and location versus actual jobs open, despite some pundits saying that extra free money promotes laziness.
In fact, one study shows from the University of Massachusetts, there has been very little difference in return to work numbers in states that maintained federal benefits.
"And so, I think it will be some time before we see significant increases in hiring," said Mr. Bernick. That's because many people remain hyper concerned about the COVID delta variant, lack of childcare, reliable education for their children and many reconsidering what they want their work future to be., despite some pundits saying that extra free money keeps works from returning to work.
Bernick compared Labor Days 2019, 2020 and 2021. Right now the California's unemployment rate is 7.7% as opposed to 11% a year ago, and just 4% in 2019.
In April of 2020, it reached a pandemic high of 14.8%.
"And we're still are 2.1 million jobs below what we had day in Labor Day 2019. So there's still a big hole," said Bernick.
What about Labor Day 2022? "We’ll see continued job gains. We’ll see unemployment go down from 7.7%," said Bernick.
But he says, unknowns such as new COVID variants and workers delaying returning as they contemplate finding new pursuits, could slow or upset the recovery.