Across the country, “help wanted signs” still decorate multitudes of store windows, and business owners lament how they “just can’t get workers. Over two years since the worst of the pandemic and Sen. Mitch McConnell says Joe Biden’s wanton stimulus money is still largely to blame.
At a recent event in his home state of Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader said, “You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush for the moment. What we’ve got to hope is once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”
Many Americans were able to build their savings during the pandemic, thanks to several federal rescue packages. Moody’s Analytics estimates that households built up an extra cash cushion totaling $2.6 trillion from the beginning of the pandemic through the end of 2021.
McConnell was never in favor of Biden’s bloated stimulus packages. Biden’s additional stimulus passed with only Democratic votes in March 2021 after two previous rescue packages that were approved by the Trump administration. Ever since, Republicans have blamed that additional $1,400 direct payment to Americans for worsening inflation and helping keep people out of the workforce.
McConnell also says that the stimulus checks along with enhanced unemployment benefits are among the reasons that Americans do not have enough incentive to return to the job market following the height of the pandemic.
Some of those help wanted signs are also being caused by American quitting their jobs in record numbers. In May of this year, 4.3 million people submitted their resignations — only slightly lower than the record 4.4 million in March.
Kentucky, McConnell’s home state, was briefly the epicenter of that “Great Resignation.” The sheer number of workers quitting and leaving the workforce was powered by structural conditions that existed long before the pandemic and were exacerbated by COVID-19.
But with inflation higher than it has been in over 40 years, the savings that many Americans built up thanks to federal COVID relief handouts are being depleted, and McConnel says people will soon return to work and fill the millions of waiting open jobs when workers are no longer “flush” with stimulus money.