Sasse pitches ‘signing bonus’ for workers on unemployment who get a job

Sen. Ben Sasse announced he would introduce legislation that would reallocate expanded unemployment benefits into signing bonus payments for new hires, after this week’s disappointing jobs report

Sasse said the bill would convert the pandemic-expanded federal unemployment benefit, which is currently up to $300 per week, into a two-month signing bonus “equal to 101 percent of their current unemployment payment.” 

“A year ago, we had vaccines, expanded unemployment benefits started to pay more than work. The emergency need was real, but the emergency plan was flawed,” the Nebraska Republican said in an emailed statement announcing the bill, according to The Hill.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS BECOME TARGET AMID HIRING DIFFICULTY 

The April jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy sharply missed Wall Street’s expectations, adding 266,000 new jobs as the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate also unexpectedly rose to 6.1%. While it’s still well below the April 2020 peak of 14.7%, it’s about twice the pre-crisis level, the Labor Department announced in its monthly payroll report, released Friday morning. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv said they expected the report to show that unemployment would fall to 5.8% and that the economy would add 978,000 jobs.

“The emergency UI program is now penalizing people for going back to work,” Sasse continued. 

“Now, as millions of Americans are vaccinated each day, we’ve got crummy job numbers – 7,400,000 jobs are available but fewer than 300,000 people returned to work last month,” he said. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic took off, Congress has increased jobless payments a number of times, first adding $600 to weekly payments in the CARES Act until December and most recently adding a $300 weekly supplement that will last through September. 

COMPANIES OFFERING HIRING INCENTIVES TO LURE WORKERS AMID COVID-19 STATE REOPENINGS

The White House seemed unconcerned about the jobs numbers. 

“Today, there is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction,” Biden said, while acknowledging, however, that “it is clear we have a long way to go.”

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“You might think we should be disappointed,” Biden said of the numbers, but claimed the “American Rescue Plan,” which passed in late March, “was designed to help us over the course of a year—not 60 days.”

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