Unemployment Math

I made a mistake this morning, I turned on CNN. I mean, I like CNN – it’s my preferred news source – but the moment I turned it on, I saw the President of the United States yelling at reporters, saying that Democrats aren’t “taking care of the people,” and he is.

Now, this is not intended as a political post – while it may come off that way. This is intended as a follow up to my Op Ed in the Star Tribune, to continue the conversation about unemployment in the age of COVID.

There has been attack after attack on the unemployed – saying we’re disincentivized to return to work by the supplemental $600, to suggesting that we should just take any job we can find.

So, let’s discuss using facts and math – both being favorites of mine.

According to the US Labor Department (https://oui.doleta.gov/press/2020/072320.pdf), 31.8 million Americans filed unemployment claims the week ending July 4th. That is a lot of people – and as we have discussed it’s across all sectors with over 130,000 members of the Minnesota nonprofit sector losing their jobs due to COVID.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm) reported that on May 31st there were 5.4 million job openings in the US.

Now, time for some math:

31,800,000 (unemployed) – 5,4000,000 (available jobs) = 26,400,000 more unemployed then available jobs at the end of May/first week of July.

That means that for 83% of the unemployed right now – there isn’t a job for them to take. So how exactly is the $600 disincentivizing them to go back to work?

The White House and Republicans want to reduce the weekly supplemental unemployment insurance to $200/week. That means removing $10,560,000,000 per week from the economy – which has been keeping much of the economy and many American families going. Removing this money is not going to help close the gap between unemployed and available jobs.

Unemployed families need this supplemental income. The economy needs it. It’s not politics, it’s math.

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