Florida governor Ron DeSantis has made mostly good decisions throughout the pandemic, in my opinion. Now, as the pandemic recedes, he’s made another good one.
DeSantis intends to require unemployment claimants to show they have looked for work. The requirement will likely kick in once an executive order waiving it expires on May 29.
The governor’s decision is a response to the difficulties some Florida businesses, especially those in hospitality, have encountered finding employees. I can confirm that this is a problem in Florida. At the Florida resort hotel where we stayed last month, we had the same waiter for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on two consecutive days. One morning, breakfast service was limited to indoors because, I learned, of a staff shortage.
The problem isn’t confined to Florida, of course. When I returned in March to my favorite D.C. bar after being vaccinated, the owner was glad that business was picking up slightly, but concerned that once it picked considerably he wouldn’t be able to staff the place. He observed that many of the employees who worked for him pre-pandemic didn’t want to return because they were receiving unemployment benefits equal to or greater than what he paid them.
In Florida, absent the waiver, those receiving unemployment benefits must seek work with at least five employers per week. That’s a more stringent requirement than most states impose, and there have been proposals to reduce the number to three.
I don’t know what the right number is. But with the pandemic receding, some requirement for seeking work should be imposed.
This is true not just as a matter of equity (to use that word correctly), but also economic policy. The latest employment report was disappointing. The U.S. economy added only 266,000 jobs last month. As Ed Morrissey notes, economists expected to see a million jobs added — a reasonable expectation, considering that almost that many were added in March.
Sen. Marco Rubio tied the disappointing job numbers to the availability of unemployment benefits without a requirement that recipients seek work. Rubio tweeted:
Why is anyone surprised that the jobs reports fell short of expectations?
I told you weeks ago that in #Florida I hear from #smallbusiness everyday that they can’t hire people because the government is paying them to not go back to work.
There may well be other factors that help account for the poor jobs report. However, it seems beyond dispute that the causal link Rubio draws is valid.
It’s good to see Gov. DeSantis doing something about it.