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Americans Start Shunning Work: ‘I Was Told I’d Earn More with Unemployment Benefits’

Americanos se niegan a trabajar: me dijeron que "cobraría más con los subsidios de desempleo"

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Restaurants desperately looking for employees in full recovery, long waits for the lack of drivers in companies like Uber and Lyft. The American economy is showing an unusual phenomenon after the crisis caused by the pandemic and the economic measures taken by Joe Biden: more jobs than job seekers, which is likely due to existing unemployment benefits.

The weak job creation figure in April, when only 260,000 jobs were created compared to the 1 million estimated by analysts, has raised concerns about the state of the labor market in the world’s leading economy.

‘I was told I’d earn more with unemployment benefits’

Private chauffeur-driven transportation companies are an example of what is happening. One of the drivers who has not been behind the wheel of her vehicle for months in Los Angeles, California, is actress Frida Quini, a fictitious name by request of the interviewee, who decided to stop working in different places “thanks to government subsidies”.

“One day I stopped driving, waitressing and giving massages because a friend told me that I would get paid more with unemployment benefits from Congress and California. And so I continue, while I still train to become an actress,” said Quini in an interview with EFE, who lives in a welfare apartment in one of the most popular neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

At the height of the public subsidies during the pandemic, from April to August, Quini was paid more than $1,000 a week, while now she receives about $500 every seven days.

Employers must compete with the government to attract employees

This case, which has been repeated many times in the United States, has caused companies to make efforts to attract employees.

The fast food chain Chipotle, one of the most popular, announced this week a $15 wage hike to attract more employees; while the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, remarked that the high demand has caused revenues per driver to increase and are at “historic” levels.

The reinforcement of unemployment benefits, the subsidies approved by Congress and the slowness in the reopening of schools are some of the arguments used by people for not working and settling for the money given to them by the government.

Biden’s policies encourage unproductiveness

For economist Rafael Marrero, director of a consulting firm in Miami that deals with federal contracting, public aid during the pandemic has encouraged “low productivity” in the country, a situation he described as “regrettable.”

“Far from becoming an ally of small and medium-sized businesses, (the government) is encouraging labor unproductivity through incentives, such as unemployment benefits,” Marrero lamented.

In fact, one of his clients recently won a public tender to hire 500 workers for vaccination centers, but, according to Marrero, “it cannot get employees because they do not want to go to work for $15 an hour.”

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