Heritage Expert: It’s Time to Begin Getting Americans Safely Back to Work

Heritage Expert: It’s Time to Begin Getting Americans Safely Back to Work

May 8, 2020 1 min read

WASHINGTON—Today’s jobs report shows the unemployment rate at 14.7%. Combined with recent weekly information, the true unemployment rate is almost certainly above 20% and could reach 25%. Rachel Greszler, Heritage Foundation research fellow in budget and entitlements, made the following statement:

Government-imposed shutdowns have had a devastating impact on tens of millions of Americans—at least 1 in 5 losing their jobs over just eight weeks. At the same time, the private sector has also acted on its own in response to the virus and businesses all around the country have closed absent government restrictions.


The lives and livelihoods of Americans are deeply intertwined; we can and must save both. Heritage’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission recommends a locally driven, data-informed reopening of American society, so we can begin getting Americans safely back to work.


While policymakers have done a lot to try and keep workers attached to their employers, today’s jobs report captures the consequences of poorly drafted policy. Congress’ creation of an additional $600 per week in unemployment insurance benefits effectively encouraged unemployment and will keep employees from returning work. Incentivizing unemployment makes it harder to avert widespread business failures and an economic depression. Congress can help Americans stay employed and prevent more long-term consequences by capping this benefit at 100% of previous wages.

The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, which launched in early April to save Americans’ lives and livelihoods, has now put forward 179 recommendations for the federal government, state governments, local governments, and the private sector.