WASHINGTON— April unemployment data showed that millions of Americans who should be employed remained out of the labor force, with businesses struggling to fill 11.5 million job openings.
EJ Antoni, research fellow in regional economics with The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, released the following statement Friday on the latest data:
“The pace of the labor market recovery remains woefully slow since Biden took office. In fact, the household employment survey reported the first decline since the nationwide shutdown, two years ago. America is still 1.2 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels and labor participation has not yet recovered. The policies of this administration, such as gratuitous unemployment benefits and student loan moratoriums, have drastically and unnecessarily delayed the recovery. The uncertainty generated by the administration’s capricious actions should not be underestimated.
“Those who are working today are also typically making less than they did when Biden took office because of the hidden tax of inflation, which has robbed them of purchasing power despite nominal wage gains.
“To reverse the economic downturn from the first quarter, Congress and the President need to drastically reduce spending, taxes, and regulatory burdens, while the Federal Reserve reigns in inflation. In particular, the administration should immediately abandon its consideration of student loan ‘forgiveness. Aside from putting more upward pressure on inflation rates, doing so would unfairly benefit college graduates, who have an unemployment rate of just 2.0%, with 1.5 million more college grads being employed today than before the pandemic."
Joel Griffith, research fellow in financial regulations with The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute, released the following statement:
“The flow of unemployment bonuses, stimulus checks, and other assorted benefits—combined with a threatened OSHA vaccine mandate—disincentivized a return to work even as localities reopened after lockdowns. Now, Congress threatens to enact restrictions on gig workers who compete with unions to advance forced unionization. Congress should abandon this labor-suppressing agenda so non-union workers, who make up 90% of America’s workers, can get a job.
"Labor force participation dropped last month and is more than 1 full percentage point below the pandemic level—and before the pandemic we were already near a 40-year low. This might not sound like a lot—but this represents more than 2.6 million people who would be in the labor force were it not for the decline.
“Even as wages rise, average earnings are failing to keep up with inflation—and these price hikes are impacting business owners, employees, and consumers. Labor costs jumped 11.6% in the first quarter even as output plunged! Businesses are forced to pass these costs along to consumers—exacerbating the wage-price spiral."