We write in strong support of the July 31 expiration of the CARES Act policy of providing $600 in additional weekly unemployment payments on top of regular unemployment compensation (UC). While originally intended to provide additional support for families and businesses complying with government-mandated economic restrictions to address COVID-19, this policy has stifled our nation's recovery and is keeping Americans from returning to work. Congress must allow the provision to expire to end the practice of incentivizing people to remain unemployed even as opportunities to responsibly return to work are becoming available.
Tens of millions of Americans continue to draw UC, even as states take steps to open up and jobs need to be filled again. And the majority of workers in every state—and as many as two in three workers overall—are earning more by remaining on unemployment than they would by returning to work full time. Unemployment has become more lucrative than employment, and as a result, roughly 65 percent of small businesses are reporting difficulties in bringing employees back to work. The excessive unemployment subsidy is putting Main Street at great risk, and ultimately, Americans depend on these businesses, not the federal government, to provide goods and services to their communities.
The majority of voters support allowing the UC bonus to expire, including over 60 percent of independent voters. Americans understand that a full economic recovery requires all hands on deck. We cannot afford to pay people to sit on the sidelines. As Congress debates its response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, we know that the real work of rebuilding and recovering is taking place all across America in our local communities. Congress must end the unprecedented UC bonus and its resulting disincentive to work so that businesses can reopen, and all Americans are encouraged to experience the power of work to protect and preserve a healthy economy.