It’s not that people don’t want to work, it’s that work is interrupted

Also: Tougher payday loan rules set to pass Congress, a stimulus fund for undocumented New Jersey immigrants, and more.

It’s not that people don’t want to work, it’s that work is interrupted

Social media has been abuzz this week with restaurants and hotels saying they can’t find enough workers to fill vacancies – a study by the The conservative-leaning NFIB says 44% of companies are short of employees. Republicans have accused stimulus and unemployment payments of discouraging work. But what actually happens is more complicated.

The Washington Post reports that many analysts say the delay in hiring is “an anomaly” and that more people will return to work once vaccinated. Others suggest that a lack of childcare is still holding back job creation – and indeed, the economy’s 266,000 jobs do add in April went to men, while women actually lost their jobs.

Yet others suggest that the nature of low-paying work in retail just isn’t that appealing to people, and the coronavirus pandemic was the straw that ultimately sparked that realization. “The problem is that we don’t make enough money to make it worth going back to those tough, dirty and generally thankless jobs. You get yelled at and disrespected all day. It’s hell,” a former retail worker told the Post.

A brief from the Economic Policy Institute supports the latter theory, noting that while there are labor shortages, they seem mostly confined to leisure and hospitality, which are “heavily segmented from other sectors” and unlikely affect the labor market in other sectors. The EPI also reiterated that the lack of childcare prevents women from working and that cutting unemployment benefits will do nothing on this front to get women back to work.

Tougher payday loan rules expected to pass Congress

The Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution to repeal a rule that allowed consumers to take out loans with interest rates above their state’s maximum, which consumer interest groups have widely called a loophole to get around payday loan restrictions, The Hill reports.

The resolution is heading to the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass, and President Biden has signaled he will sign.

While many states cap interest rates on short-term payday loans, banks are generally exempt from these caps, the National Consumer Law Center noted in a brief on the matter. The “genuine lender” rule, approved in October 2020, allows payday lenders, operating in states where interest rates are not capped, to lend to people in the state as long as a bank in the State is named as lender on the loan papers.

“States are taking steps to protect their constituents… their consumers from these abuses of their laws to prohibit these predatory practices. But last October, in the midst of the pandemic, when many working families were plunged into economic uncertainty and turmoil, the Trump administration gave these bank leasing programs a free pass to exploit these loopholes,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), sponsor of the resolution to repeal the rule, told The Hill.

New Jersey plans stimulus checks for undocumented residents

Low-income undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey will receive one-time stimulus checks funded by the CARES Act, Governor Phil Murphy announced this week and reported.

To receive the stimulus payment, people will need to show that they have been excluded from other forms of relief, earned less than $55,000 in the last year and have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. .

The news comes after 35 essential workers went on a month-long hunger strike to raise awareness of the need for financial aid. Last Friday, these workers said they would end their hunger strike, but they stressed that the NJ fund “would only reach a fraction of the population of excluded workers and their families, and would not is not enough to meet the immense and desperate needs”.

American Recovery Act money is flowing to cities

The $350 billion in federal funds for states and cities are beginning to flow, various news outlets have reported. The US Treasury released advice on how the funds can be spent. In general terms, money can be spent on COVID-19 responses such as contact tracing or vaccination clinics; programs that help businesses and industries recover; wages for essential workers; income replacement; and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

Not on the list consternation of Colorado state legislators: Transportation.

Nor is it acceptable to use funding to offset tax cuts, Urban Milwaukee reports — a provision that has led at least one state, Arizona, to prosecute.

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