WASHINGTON — February’s jobs report exceeded expectations as the economy added 379,000 jobs, the most in four months. Rachel Greszler, a research fellow in Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, released the following statement Friday on the way forward:
“Today’s employment report shows gradual but welcome improvement. The easing of restrictions in many areas of the country, along with more children having the option to attend in-person school, has helped ease many workers’ and families’ employment struggles. With the pace of vaccinations expanding and areas of the country that have allowed safe re-openings growing, employment gains will hopefully increase more substantially over the coming months.
“As we continue to see improvement, and anticipate a likely expedited pace of recovery, Congress should not take steps that would limit that recovery or decrease employment opportunities for Americans. In particular, Congress should not expand unemployment insurance benefits with an additional $300 or $400 per week, nor extend those benefits six months into the future. We have already seen that extending these benefits has the perverse effect of increasing unemployment at a time when we should be working to keep Americans connected to their jobs. It’s also wrong for federal lawmakers to reward states that have restricted workers’ livelihoods with massively higher federal funds than states that have given workers and businesses the freedom to recover.”
While the Senate is currently considering another $1.9 trillion “stimulus” package, Greszler maintains Americans do not need supersized unemployment insurance. Rather, federal lawmakers should provide temporary and targeted relief addressed to the public health crisis, and encourage state and local lawmakers to continue reopening in a way that protects lives and livelihoods, respect individuals’ rights to earn a living, and provide the option of in-person education for children.