On Labor Day, Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the global charity Samaritan's Purse, lamented a side-effect of generous COVID-19 stimulus packages, what he described as an "incentive not to work."
"Today we celebrate the American worker—the entrepreneurs w/ their dreams & the workers w/their skills who built this nation. But it’s troubling to see the disregard we now see for hard work. Almost every business is trying to hire people, but so many don’t want to work," Graham wrote on Twitter.
He claimed that "political mismanagement," "repeated stimulus payments," and "giveaway packages have encouraged people not to go to work."
Graham made his message explicitly political, claiming that "The Republicans seem to know how to get people to work and the Democrats seem to know how to tax your money and give it to people as an incentive not to work."
"God created us to work. On this Labor Day, join me in thanking Him for His hand of blessing on this nation through the years. And pray for America and our leaders to turn to God and ask for His forgiveness, His mercy, and His continued blessings. That is what we need most," Graham concluded.
America does face a labor shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which expired on Labor Day.
On Friday, the Department of Labor released its August jobs report, showing that the economy only created 235,000 jobs last month, a miss from economists' expectations of around 750,000. Around 5.3 million fewer people are working than before the pandemic. Oxford Economics estimates that roughly 11.2 million Americans will lose some form of federal unemployment benefit while companies are looking to fill the 10.1 million available jobs nationwide.
Enhanced federal unemployment insurance paid recipients $300 per week on top of the weekly state unemployment payments. For months, employers have complained that former employees are refusing to come back to work because they make more money on unemployment than they did on the job. JPMorgan Chase estimated that 48% of benefit recipients made as much as or more than their previous wages.
Republican-led states phased out the enhanced benefits in the spring and early summer, and Goldman Sachs economists found "clear evidence that benefit expiration increased the rate at which unemployed workers became employed."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spearheaded the push for enhanced unemployment benefits in the first COVID-19 stimulus bill, the CARES Act, which President Trump signed in March 2020. While Democrats pushed the benefits, Trump twice signed them into law in bipartisan relief bills.