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Pick a lane

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

* To claim the administration is lying about security concerns is basically to believe in a conspiracy theory that Pritzker doesn’t want unemployed people to obtain benefits. Tribune editorial

So why, at a time when thousands of Illinoisans have struggled to receive the unemployment benefits to which they’re entitled, have Illinois Department of Employment Security offices remained closed? Doors locked to the public? […]

Pritzker this week cited security concerns and threats as the reason for the still-closed offices. He said the agency is working with state police to figure out a safe reopening plan.

But that doesn’t quite add up. The agency’s website says: “In order to protect everyone through social distancing, IDES offices are closed to the public until further notice.” And plenty of other state offices with public-facing services — and probably a frustrated public — have managed to open their doors.

Doesn’t add up? Riots last year, spiking violent crime, rampant unemployment, general anger. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?

* Meanwhile, from a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board

The National Federation of Independent Business says a record 44% of all small-business owners have job openings they cannot fill. And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in some states workers can collect unemployment for up to 46 weeks.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to end those extra government payouts because they’re enticing people to stay home.

…Adding… TDL

Representatives of the hotel, restaurant and retail industry told aldermen on Tuesday businesses they represent are facing roadblocks to filling jobs as the city reopens. At the same time, a lack of childcare options is keeping some Chicagoans from returning to work, they said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:09 pm:

    “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to end those extra government payouts because they’re enticing people to stay home.”

    Silly working class, massive government handouts are for corporations and the rich. [h/t Trix]

    After Republicans and right wingers give billions in tax cuts to corporations and the rich for nothing but greed, and lie about its overall economic benefit, workers should take every public dollar they can get their hands on.

    This is a wake-up call to American capitalism, the most unequal of all leading countries. A few corporations are answering by raising their wages.

  2. - SaulGoodman - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    **National Federation of Independent Business says a record 44% of all small-business owners have job openings they cannot fill.**

    What are the average hourly rate and benefits that said jobs are offering?

  3. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==…small-business owners have job openings they cannot fill.==

    The sentence is incomplete. It should read: “…small-business owners have job openings they cannot fill for the wage, benefits, and working conditions they are offering.”

    In a free market, if you want someone to take the job, offer them a wage, benefits, and working conditions that will bring them in and keep them.

    It isn’t just unemployment benefits keeping workers at home. They have children (at home due to the pandemic) and other obligations (such as caring for recovering relatives). They also have to consider the risk of getting COVID in the workplace. A lot of folks are also looking closely at paid time off and insurance coverage.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:19 pm:

    When the “enhanced” unemployment monies are cited as a reason folks aren’t working, you are asking “me” to look at the dollar amount and ask myself;

    “Looking at the enhancement, and the overall, how low must wages be to lose to this figure”

    Of course, saying there’s a need to “force” people back to work for the wages losing to “enhancements”… it’s a glaring spotlight as to how the American workforce is mere chattel to employers looking for the cheap, but expecting the best.

    When you think about trade labor union workers, and compare this “pick a lane” silly that has no logic… union trades and their earnings seem even more important to protect.

    I’m old enough to remember Republican office holders that supported union trade labor… but…

  5. - SouthSide Markie - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    Complaining about not being able to fill jobs because people make more on unemployment is admitting that the jobs pay poor wages.

  6. - Guzzlepot - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    Were it not for some schools still being virtual only I would agree with the NFIB. I would like to see the proportion of people on unemployment who are mothers or fathers schooling their children from home. My guess is that they are a good proportion of the people on unemployment.

  7. - Merica - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:26 pm:

    Several interesting events occurring at once:
    - State employees, and private employees don’t want to go to the office. WFH has proven to work. In fact, many companies are more productive. Employees enjoy being closer to their families. It will be hard to convince anyone to commute anywhere again.
    - The people who are at home enjoying benefits instead of working, those people were borderline workforce anyway. Many are probably spouses who have made the decision to stay home to care for kids. Many daycares are closed so there isn’t another option for them. Inflation will fix this and pressure people to work again.
    - Federal unemployment benefit increases won’t last forever. Wage increases will follow inflation. Making a quick decision will likely be a bad move. gradual decline in benefits will lead to a gradual ramp up in workforce participation.

  8. - Friendly Bob Adams - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:28 pm:

    If the wheel of fate ends up giving a benefit to individual workers instead of corporations, it is somehow seen as unjust.

    The current supplemental unemployment will end soon enough. But let’s hope workers can catch another break one of these days.

  9. - Third Reading - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:34 pm:

    If the Tribune Editorial Board wanted to know what’s really going on with thousands of unemployed people, they could just call up their former colleagues and ask.

  10. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:42 pm:

    === they could just call up their former colleagues and ask. ===


    I can’t recall the last time I saw a help-wanted sign.

    Are there virtual job fairs going on?

  11. - historic66 - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    ===I can’t recall the last time I saw a help-wanted sign.===

    Every chain retail business in my town is plastered with help-wanted signs. Many are having multiple open interview sessions a month.

  12. - Bookeeper - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:55 pm:

    “Complaining about not being able to fill jobs because people make more on unemployment is admitting that the jobs pay poor wages.”

    It’s calculated that the current unemployment benefits provide more than $15/hour. At that rate, a couple would earn just under the average household income for the US……without leaving home.

  13. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 1:59 pm:

    “Free market” types, amiright?

  14. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:04 pm:

    So, in a rational market, when supply is short and demand is increased, prices are raised accordingly. The labor market shouldn’t be any different. If you’re an employer competing for a limited number of workers, raise the wages and maybe you’ll get some. Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned you can go pound sand.

  15. - Sanjuro - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:04 pm:

    Confirmation bias plays a significant role in the perceptions and attitudes of employers with regard to jobs going unfilled (a common trope emerging in this downturn) or the fact-less claim of under skilled job applicant and the jobs-skills mismatch unemployment (a common trope used in the downturn of 2008-10). Jobs-Skills mismatch can happen. But it shows up in the data as jobs with wages rising much faster than other similar skill level jobs and jobs with hours worked (overtime for those who do have the skills) much higher than other similar sectors. Just because an employer claims X - doesn’t make X true. Check the wage and hour data to see what the price signals of the market are saying - don’t automatically trust the self-serving claims of employers to surveys.

    Also, if sub-living wage public subsidy of labor genuinely are sufficient to curb applications for these jobs - then maybe those jobs should start paying living wages and offer working conditions that are reasonable and respectful. It is telling, that a certain level of degradation and misery (plus subsidy from govt. in the form of medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing etc) is necessary for a wide swathe of the economy to find a sufficiently desperate and compliant labor force to make that sector profitable for employers.

  16. - Franklin - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:04 pm:

    I’m not sure you understand how a free market works. Doe yourself a favor and do a quick google search.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    === I’m not sure you understand how a free market works.===


    The market says this job pays this. Job seekers say “no thanks”

    The employers, knowing their low wages aren’t attractive, they want desperate workers to work for lower wages *before* it gets too far off the rails that folks aren’t coming back, desperate or not, for low wages.

    You can “check my work”.

  18. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    “So why… have Illinois Department of Employment Security offices remained closed?”

    Here’s my answer…. Prior to the recession, unemployment was very low and IDES doesn’t employ that many people. Then the COVID recession hit, everyone that could retire or transfer did so. Anyone that was hired into the chaos said, “thanks but no thanks.” It was such a complete cluster that anybody that could avoid working at IDES, did. So the most efficient use of the people who actually stayed is to have them work remotely. Speaking from an employee perspective, why would anyone in their right mind be at IDES?

  19. - Phenomynous - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:15 pm:


    The market says this job pays this. Job seekers say “no thanks”-

    The statement was in reference to the “free market”. You know, the one free of added government benefits for choosing not to work.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    === the “free market”. You know, the one free of added government benefits for choosing not to work.===

    Explain the child care aspect of your “free market” drivel.

    The goal of this free market exercise, should we include “too big to fail” businesses…

  21. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:20 pm:

    It’s quite enlightening to see the screaming of “free market” and not one mention of… that child care cost aspect… or folks seeing working for Covidiots who are more willing to put labor in harms way with their health, but won’t raise the wage.

    It’s exciting really… gotta keep the wages down but the risks still exists.

  22. - Phenomynous - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:26 pm:

    Wasn’t “my” free market drivel. I’m sure the childcare component does have an effect. But we can’t truly tell how much of an effect until you stop putting extra cash in peoples pockets for not working. If the UI rate holds static, then we will know what kind of effect childcare is having.

    Several states are eliminating the added fed benefits, so we will have case studies soon enough.

  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===until you stop putting extra cash===

    Or, maybe provide the childcare.

  24. - DuPage - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    Some people prefer to work from home because of the time and money saved by not commuting to work every day. Also all the shootings at cars on the expressways gives people a perception of a dangerous drive to work. They avoid all that by working from home.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:37 pm:

    === until you stop putting extra cash===

    $300 is the difference.

    Think how low wages are … and with the costs of child care being ignored here, let alone available child care… and you want the discussion on static labor to be … “extra cash”

    There are folks with “first world problems” that comically complain about their cable/internet/phone bundle is a “mere $300”

    I brought up, for me, union trade labor because when you look at value to employers, making sure the wage “works” for labor is protecting the free market works for all.

    If you’re upset that people aren’t flocking back to low wage work and ignoring things like child care and cost versus benefit in not only child care but working for Covidiots still putting at risk low wage workers… are you ignoring free market balancing, or better, expecting labor to be merely grateful they’re getting *any* wage?

  26. - Sanjuro - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 2:38 pm:


    There has never been a market without a state at least doing property rights, and often other things like money supply, infrastructure, social wage etc. Keep the focus on the real world, not the imaginary one in your head.

  27. - Phenomynous - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 3:02 pm:

    Sanjuro, respectfully, the real world is the one where the extra $300 a week ends in September, and in some cases sooner. That’s not a figment of my imagination. If you think it’s realistic and sustainable for states to pay people an extra $1,200 a month on top of their UI benefit, then I would argue that your reality probably isn’t the standard we should be basing ourselves off of.

    My fear is that people will regret turning down a job (or not actively searching for a job) before the market is flooded with labor supply in the fall.

    On childcare…there are lots of fed stimulus funds available, or soon to be available, to assist with those costs as people transition back to normal, or whatever the new normal is.

  28. - Skeptic - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 3:04 pm:

    “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”


  29. - JS Mill - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    @OW et al, well done sir. Restaurant quality 100%.

    =The statement was in reference to the “free market”. You know, the one free of added government benefits for choosing not to work.=

    So that means no government subsidies for business right? Or is yours only a one way street (corporate welfare good, people welfare bad?)

    There is no such thing as a “free market” in a literal sense. Not even in the colonial period when the crown provided charters for monopolistic business enterprise to their prefered companies.

    The market economy is alive and well. Even if businesses don’t want to raise wages, the proletariat is responding in the negative.

  30. - dbk - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 4:18 pm:

    –You know, the one free of added government benefits for choosing not to work.–

    When workers “choose” to work, another set of government benefits are activated. These are, in effect, taxpayer subsidies to companies which pay their employees poverty-level wages.

  31. - Jocko - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 4:19 pm:

    ==Doe yourself a favor and do a quick google search.==

    Google ‘Chipotle $15 a hour’

  32. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 4:35 pm:

    ===Were it not for some schools still being virtual only I would agree with the NFIB.===

    NFIB is still clueless about family concerns. Bush the Elder said his biggest mistake was giving NFIB veto power over family leave legislation.

  33. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 4:44 pm:

    ==stop putting extra cash in peoples pockets for not working==

    If $300 is keeping people out of the workforce then we’ve got bigger problems. If businesses want people to come to work then they are going to have to pay people more to get them to come to work. That’s how the market works.

  34. - thisjustinagain - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 6:34 pm:

    Since real wages (adjusted for inflation) haven’t gone up over 30 years, the market voted with its feet and said “Nope, I’m good on these extra benefits for a while.” Why not? Too many businesses paid far too little pre-Covid, let alone now. If you are working full-time and can’t even clear the poverty line (which is laughably low anyway), why bother going to work, or back to work?

  35. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 7:21 pm:

    I’m all for a free market and as such I demand that the government stop paying for our civil court system.

    If businesses have a contact dispute, they should settle it with a duel like freedom demands.

    – MrJM

  36. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, May 12, 21 @ 7:44 pm:

    No one has mentioned the increase cost of the product or service when the cost of labor rises.

    How do we increase wages, lower product and service costs and compete with trade in Countries who pay real slave wages or use actual slave labor to bring the same product to market at a much lower cost?

    I believe the answer to the situation is more complicated that just demanding a higher wage.

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