At restaurants across the country – from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Fort Worth, Texas – the same sign is popping up: “We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work any more.”
The implication is that the federal government’s expanded unemployment benefits of $300 each week are keeping people at home instead of behind cash registers and in fast-food kitchens.
Unfortunately for them, what’s happening is a feature, not a bug, of the US economic system and the blame can’t entirely be placed on a $300 weekly check…
It is true that a sliver of people would rather stay home for a few months making as much, or more, from unemployment than they would defrosting meat patties or answering phones.
But would-be employees are also concerned about safety – 46% of the population hasn’t received a single vaccine dose and the spread of Covid-19 is uncontrolled in the US. Potential employees also have caregiving responsibilities: this recession has disproportionately affected women, who largely take up these duties and in late March more than half of schools were still doing remote learning or a combination of remote and in-person classes.
And that is making a serious difference!