MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In Tuesday’s Ransom Note: when Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Tennesseeans no longer needed $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, he also declared at the time the health crisis was over. Well, he was wrong about the health crisis and wrong about the hiring boom he predicted would happen.
Tuesday’s Washington Post interviewed number crunchers who study these things and found no difference in overall unemployment numbers between the 20 states that dropped the federal benefit and those that didn't. What did change? While states that didn't keep the benefit did see more people 25 and older get back to work, that was offset in states that did keep the benefit because they're hiring more teenagers.
Turns out, most workers are staying on the sidelines despite the cut in benefits for other reasons such as concerns about their health or because they're still juggling child care responsibilities or reassessing their careers. Bottom line: the pace of hiring is the same regardless.