In Americans’ desire to get back to normal, Labor Day travel is back on the rise. Concern for the people the day celebrates is another story.
A recent survey by WalletHub found that Labor Day travel will rise by 48% when compared to 2020 and 24% more people plan on going shopping.
But for actual labor? Thirty-eight percent of those polled didn’t think that Congress should continue to give extra unemployment benefits.
“While that’s not the majority opinion, it is one that should be taken seriously. In some cases, people are making more money collecting unemployment benefits than they were while working, which is leaving some businesses unable to find workers despite having open positions,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.
The AmNews recently spoke to Kathryn Tilly Wright who said that working a job that doesn’t pay much is part of the reason why workers haven’t joined the ranks of the employed.
“Burnout is the major cause of not being able to retain staff, and financial concerns play a huge part of this,” said Wright. “Many of the people I talked to across the whole country said their paycheck cannot sustain them; however they are told they cannot be paid more as their pay is dependent on reimbursement from the states. Many direct service professionals became sick as a result of doing their job. People with disabilities were disproportionately impacted by COVID, due to preexisting conditions and living in congregate settings. We lost a lot of people we support and staff last year.”
Complaints from business owners about their inability to find workers has been one of the many conversations people have had since the slow re-opening of the American economy. The AmNews recently reported on a restaurant owner in Brooklyn who said that the increase in cost of running his establishment (money for PPEs, etc.) makes it difficult for him to profit and only leaves major outlets like Costco and Whole Foods with the ability to succeed despite an increase in costs.
According to a poll by Alignable, a small business network, 45% of all restaurants in the country couldn’t pay August rent. When broken down locally and demographically, 52% of minority-owned small businesses couldn’t make August rent. In New York alone, 41% of small businesses couldn’t pay August rent. The highest of all 50 states and the second month in a row that it has topped Alignable’s poll.
Unemployment remains a huge topic nationally. During the week of Aug. 16, 10 states reported unemployment claims last week that were lower than pre-pandemic levels (North Dakota, Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Vermont, New York, Kentucky and Louisiana), and four states (Virginia, New Mexico, Maryland and Oregon) and D.C. had unemployment claims that were worse than the same week in 2020.
No matter the recovery, a minority of people surveyed by WalletHub don’t think the government should continue providing extra unemployment benefits.
Stated Gonzalez, “The extra unemployment benefits were very necessary during the height of the pandemic, but the job market has experienced enough of a recovery that they are no longer needed.”
For those who are still employed, Labor Day couldn’t come fast enough. Fifty-seven percent of Americans left vacation days unused in 2020 while 42% of organizations have made or plan on making changes to time-off policies because of the pandemic.
But the Delta variant of COVID-19 could put things on hold and leave people with more unused vacation days. WalletHub’s report states that 81% of Americans believe that COVID variants will have a negative impact on the economy. This tracks with Partnership for New York City’s report showing that 44% of employers have delayed their return-to-office plans because of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, 54% have not delayed their return-to-office plans, and 2% have not yet determined whether to delay.
Among employers that have delayed their return-to-office plans, 42% postponed for one month or less, 18% for between two and three months, 10% for three months or more, and 28% are evaluating on an ongoing basis.
“The best way to prevent variants from hurting the economy is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Gonzalez.