The Corner

The Economy

You Should Definitely Get a Job

Employment sign at a Panda Express restaurant in Tampa, Fla., June 1, 2021. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

The expectation that a capable American will do their best to find work rather than rely on the state is a healthy norm in American society.

Or it was. After suggesting that those who lost their COVID emergency unemployment benefits should go find work, Ted Cruz was subjected to major blowback on social media. Progressives have a corrosive need to portray workers as helpless victims of capitalism. One of the common gripes is that positions available for would-be employees are beneath them — unglamorous work with “crap hours.” Essentially, progressives childishly argue that there is more honor in being dependent on government than in taking a job you don’t want.

Of course, there’s nothing disreputable about working as a cook or waiter or front-end manager. Many of us have done it in our lives. I see restaurants all over the place looking for help, offering bonuses and salaries above the Left’s proposed minimum wage. Those jobs are typically transitionary. Yet, setting that aside, the fact is that most jobs available in the United States today are in professional and business services, followed by education and health, wholesale and retail trade, and then leisure and hospitality. There are nearly 11 million job openings in the country right now — over a million more jobs than people unemployed. There are more job openings in the country than at any time in our history.

There will always be those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. There will always be victims of circumstance and creative destruction. It’s also probably true that some pre-COVID jobs are gone forever, as industries implemented efficiencies during the pandemic. But the COVID emergency was the man-made downturn. Enhanced benefits for unemployed workers, especially when the check is bigger than a potential paycheck, were likely holding back the recovery. Stories about the sunsetting benefits are littered with concerns over the “dwindling options” for the jobless. One particularly partisan Associated Press piece — “Jobless Americans will have few options as benefits expire” — cherrypicks a report from a couple of economists that tells us — contra the laws of economics and human nature — that emergency benefits do nothing to disincentivized anyone from looking for work. But the job market is in a boomtime disposition. We are experiencing a labor shortage. If we really need emergency checks in a robust labor market, that would mean we need them in perpetuity — which, of course, is the entire goal of those offended by the notion of “get a job.”


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