WASHINGTON, D.C.— Massive federal spending on benefit payments continues to hold back workers, especially women, amidst strong jobs growth and rising wages. The overall unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9% as the economy added a better-than-expected 850,000 jobs. Women’s unemployment rate rose 0.2% to 5.7% from the previous month (seasonally adjusted), as over 170,000 more women became unemployed.

Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) at Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:

“Pandemic relief aid from Washington, D.C. to American households is undermining the employment bounceback. Employment rates continue to be depressed by generous federal unemployment benefits even as we see jobs return to leisure and hospitality sectors. Too many workers are forgoing employment in favor of continuing to receive benefits, which will damage their long term earnings potential.

“Although it’s a positive step that the extra benefits have or will end soon for workers in over half of all states, Washington may once again get in the way of workers rejoining the workforce. Expanded Child Tax Credit payments of up to $300 per child are set to hit bank accounts for 39 million families this month thanks to the March pandemic relief package. This extra cash could blunt the impact of (largely conservative) states, ending the generous unemployment bonuses. 

“Many households are planning to travel this summer, dining out, attending parties, and shopping. Businesses do not have the workers to keep up with the pent-up demand being unleashed. As a result, families are feeling the impact of higher prices at the grocery store and the gas pump. Lawmakers should pay attention, we don’t need any new stimulus payments or another entitlement program. It’s time for the government to stop restraining the labor market and for people to get back to work.” 

As part of its workforce campaign, Chasing Work, IWF interviews and produces written profiles and mini-documentary videos of individuals negatively affected by restrictions on worker freedom and flexibility. To learn more, visit: www.iwf.org/chasing-work.