Street Sign to Job versus Unemployed

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It’s taking something extra to attract workers. The Bulletin’s Suzanne Roig reported 10 Barrel Brewing was offering a $750 incentive. Sunriver Resort was offering $25 an hour for housekeepers.

We don’t fault workers for being choosy about jobs or cautious about COVID-19. But some states are going to stop sending out the supplemental federal unemployment benefits of an extra $300 a week in June. Oregon does not plan to discontinue them until they expire in September.

Should Oregon cut them off sooner?

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion … that people are being paid to stay home, rather than go to work,” President Joe Biden said earlier this month. “We don’t see much evidence of that.”

We don’t know how government would find much evidence. We doubt people would confess to it. It could get them in trouble.

In Oregon, the rules are that unemployed workers cannot refuse job offers or a recall to their previous job, if they were laid off, because of the amount of their unemployment benefit. It would be fraud to refuse to work solely for that reason. The state Employment Department even has a place where businesses can report someone who refused an offer of work.

People aren’t eager to take some jobs for any number of reasons. It’s not necessarily that the government is paying them to sit on the couch and exercise their Netflix account. Sure, they might not like doing the jobs available. They also may not have access to child care. There still can be uncertainty if schools are going to remain open. COVID-19 fuels uncertainty, even with the effectiveness of the vaccines. And to return to work only to be told you have to be the vaccine police for a business and confront customers, well, that wouldn’t be something to get excited about.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that it’s the fault of the federal and state government that workers can be hard to attract. But, yes, the extra $300 a week can be a factor. The thing is: How do you decide when is the right time to end it?

Yesterday was the right time for many businesses. September will be too early for some workers.

“We do not want those who need those benefits to lose access to them before the programs end,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “While we are watching current economic conditions, we do not have any plans to end the federal benefit plans early.”

So if you want the state to end the benefit early, tell Gov. Kate Brown. Or if you want to keep it, tell her that. You can send her your view at

(2) comments

Funding Secured

No. At best, expanded UI is having only a marginal impact on low productivity sector labor pools. In April, 16-19yos posted their highest participation rate in a generation. Ending the program early could do more harm than good to the people that are taking it. And greater participation by our young people is a great outcome imo.

Smedley Doright

No, it's racist. That's what we were told when Montana ended theirs: “Montana’s move to end these fully federally-funded UI programs, along with their COVID-19 exceptions, is cruel, ill-informed, and disproportionately harms Black and Indigenous People of Color and women,” Alexa Tapia, unemployment insurance campaign coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. “Ending these programs would leave 22,459 people unable to support their families and hurt thousands more.”

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