There’s a simple rule in economics – you do more business when you’re open than when you’re closed. Applying that rule to today’s economy, you will do more business in a year when you are coming out of a pandemic and opening up the economy than you did in a year when you were going into a pandemic and shutting down the economy.
So, all that President Biden and his Democratic allies had to do, for the jobs market to take off at or near historic levels was… do nothing, stupid. But, unfortunately, the temptation was too great.
As just about anyone in America who has been to a local business knows, people are staying home because they can make more money sitting on the couch than working thanks to the Democrats’ extremely generous unemployment benefits – which include a $300 a week federal jobless bonus on top of traditional state unemployment benefits.
Originally passed during the pandemic on a bipartisan basis as a temporary measure when jobs were in short supply, those benefits expired on December 31st.
The jobs market reacted immediately.
While the economy created an average of over 500,000 jobs from January through March (770,000 in March alone), that number dropped precipitously to 266,000 in April and the unemployment rate increased to 6.1%.
No one should have been surprised. The signs were there if you wanted to see them.
In April at an Albuquerque, New Mexico Sonic restaurant workers posted a sign saying "We are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore."
In Florida, a McDonald’s owner offered applicants $50 just to interview for a job. He still had trouble finding workers.
If you’re wondering whether this is a real thing, just go to any local business and ask whoever is there, assuming the people who showed up have the time to speak with you.
Nonetheless, economists were surprised. Recall that these are the same economists who consistently overestimated labor market performance under President Obama and consistently underestimated it under President Trump, making the phase "exceeded economists expectation" a part of virtually every Trump-era labor market data release. It’s pretty clear where the forecasting is headed in the Biden era.
Reuters’ survey of economists averaged a likely increase of 978,000 jobs in April, with estimates ranging from as low as 656,000 to as high as 2.1 million jobs. Suffice it to say that the 266,000 jobs number came a somewhat of a shock – or perhaps a devastating blow. It was so bad that when CNBC senior economic reporter Steve Liesman was reporting on the numbers Friday morning had to furiously check to make sure there wasn’t a typo. There wasn’t.
So, did the politicians who apparently believe massive government – demand side – spending will solve all our economic problems come out and admit that maybe, possibly, perchance paying people not to work was going to discourage them from working. Did they concede that a change of course back to job and work encouraging – supply side – policies might be a good idea?
Of course not.
Asked if enhanced unemployment benefits had any impact on Americans’ desire to work, Biden rejected the very notion: "No, nothing measurable." Honest, that’s what he said. In fact, speaking from the DC bubble, Biden claimed April’s "job numbers show we are still on the right track" and that things would have been worse but for his $1.9 trillion spending spree.
His solution – more of what’s causing the current problem in the first place – government spending. Biden used this opportunity to promote his $2.3 trillion infrastructure and climate plan that he claims will create new jobs.
Honest, even his economists agree.
Rather than doing more of what is getting us deeper in trouble, Governor Ron DeSantis has a different plan. Under DeSantis’s plan, unemployed Floridians receiving state benefits will soon have to provide proof that they’re looking for a job. As with most governors, he suspended that requirement during the pandemic when there were few, if any, jobs available. But times have changed. "I think it’s pretty clear now, we have an abundance of job openings" Desantis stated. So, "[w]e absolutely can put more people to work. The demand is there. Businesses want to hire more people."
I have a few predictions. First, while unemployment in Florida is already well below the national average, it will decline further. Second, other blue state (and the smarter red state) governors will follow his example. Third, Biden will attempt to take credit for the impact their states’ declines in unemployment have on reducing national unemployment – and the corrupt corporate media will support him.
Andy Puzder was chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants for more than 16 years, following a career as an attorney. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. He was nominated by President Trump to serve as U.S. labor secretary. In 2018, Puzder authored "The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left's Plot to Stop It" (Center Street). His latest piece, a Broadside by Encounter Books titled, "It’s Time to Let America Work Again" was released on July 20, 2020.