This article originally appeared on The Washington Post on July 2, 2020.
The U.S. employment numbers released Thursday prompted headlines about a record-breaking 4.8 million jobs added in June. Yet even more jobs could have been added, if only employers could find people to hire.
The National Federation of Independent Business’ June Jobs Report says that “32 percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill,” an increase of nine percentage points from May. Fifty-one percent of these small-business owners reported “hiring or trying to hire” in June, but 84 percent of them said they could find few qualified applicants, or none at all.
That is unsettling news, especially given a more sobering Labor Department report for the week ended June 13: The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits increased to 31.5 million, from about 30.6 million a week earlier.
The NFIB’s chief economist, William C. Dunkelberg, noted the shortfall of job seekers amid plentiful job openings in May when he wrote that “generous unemployment benefits are making it harder for some firms to recall workers and fill open positions.”
He was right. And congressional Democrats are mistaken, even if well-intentioned, in thinking that prolonging the problem is a good idea.
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