Will cutting federal unemployment benefits push job growth?

In some states, this is the first week people out of work can’t collect the extra $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits. The benefits expired in Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri on Saturday. Will this drive more applicants to jobs that have remained unfilled?

“There’s definitely a worker out there who’s like, ‘These benefits are great, my job was terrible, I’m going to ride this as far as I can.’ But there’s also definitely a person out there who has filed 500 job applications and can’t find a job,” said Kathryn Anne Edwards, a labor economist at the Rand Corp.

There are also people without child care, those who are unvaccinated because of health conditions and those who can’t find jobs that match their skills.

“Unemployment insurance was designed with that in mind,” Edwards said.

Getting workers in the right jobs, those that they’ll stay in, is better for them and for the economy. And, in most industries, “there are still more unemployed people than there are job openings,” said David Cooper with the Economic Policy Institute. One exception is leisure and hospitality, where businesses are struggling to hire. But he says that’s to be expected in a low-wage industry that’s seeing a surge in demand.

“Even in the best of circumstances, it’s going to take time for employers to staff up,” Cooper said.

Expiring unemployment benefits aside, we’ll see job growth as the economy continues to reopen, he said.

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