Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs
It’s fitting that a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on job openings was released during Missouri’s last week of federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits. At the end of April 2021, job openings reached 9.3 million, the highest since the BLS began its job openings series in December 2000. The industry with the largest increase in job openings from March to April was accommodation and food services, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen “Help Wanted” signs at their favorite eateries. The hiring rate, on the other hand, remained unchanged at 4.2 percent from March to April.
With all these job openings, it really does seem like it’s time for things to finally get back to normal and for people to get back to work. The reasons we may have needed additional unemployment benefits during the height of the pandemic are fading fast—businesses are opening, vaccines are widely available, and people are returning to life outside their homes.
The economy is recovering from the pandemic, but it’s possible that increased federal unemployment benefits have slowed down our recovery by causing people to push back their job search. Governor Parson decided that Missouri would end all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits on June 12th to incentivize people to get back to work. I think this was a smart move because jobs are clearly available. It’s time to stop relying on government handouts and fill those job openings.