WASHINGTON, D.C.—The May jobs report demonstrates an economy that wants to roar back and is returning, but may be slowed by workers remaining on the sidelines. The overall unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, which is down 0.3% from the previous month. Over 100,000 workers left the workforce even as U.S. job openings topped 8.1 million in March 2021 for the first time in history. The women’s unemployment rate fell 0.3% to 5.5% from the previous month, as over 90,000 women rejoined the labor force.
Workers are increasingly shifting back to the office. Some 16.6% of workers teleworked because of the pandemic: down 1.7% from the previous month and from 25.5% in August 2020. Nonetheless, employers are making remote work arrangements a permanent part of their workplace.
Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) at Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:
“Today’s jobs report was stronger than April’s report, but should have been a blowout as the economy returns to full strength. Too many workers are being paid to sit on the sidelines. President Biden, Congress, and state leaders have created a messy situation in the labor market. By extending and expanding unemployment benefits, relaxing work requirements, and providing multiple rounds of stimulus payments, the disincentive to work is driving a shortage of workers. In turn, businesses are raising prices and cutting services.
“The good news is that this worker shortage can be fixed. Congress should extend the expiration date of the unemployment bonus from September 6 to the end of June. All states should end their pandemic-related unemployment benefits and programs. Finally, Congress should not provide any additional stimulus payments. Until our leaders firmly resolve to get Americans back to work, families will continue to feel the pressure of higher prices, diminished services, and limited hours at their favorite establishments.
“The pandemic positively accelerated a massive shift in the workplace to embrace flexible work. That trend appears to be sticking around, which is a win for many workers who value flexibility, especially women. As businesses adjust their operations to make flexible schedules and work arrangements permanent, policymakers should not throw a monkey wrench into their plans. Passing restrictive policies like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), modeled after California’s AB5 law, will eliminate independent contracting and kill flexible opportunities.”
As part of the workforce campaign Chasing Work, IWF interviews and produces written profiles and mini documentary videos of individuals negatively affected by AB5 and other restrictions on worker freedom and flexibility. To learn more, visit: www.iwf.org/chasing-work.
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.