Tennessee Has 250K Jobs For You, If You Don't Have To Eat, Pay Rent, Otherwise Survive
Tennessee GOP Governor Bill Lee is very excited to stop accepting federal CARES Act funds for enhanced unemployment benefits in July, which will reduce payments for 70,000 Tennesseans and eliminate them entirely for 50,000. Those who are able to stay on unemployment will see their benefits decrease to $275 a week. Part of the reason he's doing this, he says, is that there are 250,000 open jobs available in the state and he doesn't want to "pay people to stay at home."
And yet there is something of glitch in that plan. Only three percent of those jobs, 8,485 to be precise, actually pay over $20,000 a year. That's not great! The bare minimum a single person with no children needs to be able to live in Tennessee is $27,563, and with the addition of one child, that number goes up to $54,702.
Additionally, as a Medium post from the Tennessee Senate Democrats points out, the vast majority of the postings to the state's job site are over a month old.
Of the "quarter million job postings," nearly 192,000 are more than a month old, the analysis shows. And when a user searches recent job postings, Jobs4TN produces far fewer hits than there are people looking for work.
Lee's website returned only 45,000 new job postings statewide in the last two weeks and just under 66,000 in the last the month. There are at least 167,000 Tennesseans who are unemployed, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When reviewing jobs posted in the last 30 days, only one county out of 95 — Anderson County — showed more job listings than the estimated number of unemployed people.
Also not good!
According to a recent study cited in the post, and also what anyone with half a brain could tell you, forcing people to just take any low wage job that is available is not actually a great idea.
A recent study, produced by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, says cutting the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefits early in order to push people into jobs that pay too little, endanger their health, or result in a longer commute hurts the local economy and the recovery.
Ultimately, workers forego the potential for future better earnings instead of matching their new job to their skills, experience and family demands, the study says.
One big issue with these low wage jobs is that it is frequently hard to take them temporarily while looking for something better. Often, workers don't know what their schedule will be from week to week, which means they can't make plans to interview for jobs they actually want.
Killing these payments early also means people will have less money to spend, which means businesses that depend on consumer sales will also suffer. It's pretty bad all around.
The fact is, even if businesses don't want to pay people enough to live on, people still need to have enough to live on. When businesses don't pay people enough to live on, people frequently end up needing government assistance in one way or another. So which is better? Forcing people to take dead-end jobs where they are going to still need assistance, and likely for much longer than these unemployment benefits will last, or giving them time to find a job where that will not be the case?
Speaking to Fox 17 Nashville, Democratic state Senator Heidi Campbell said of Governor Lee's rhetoric that "I think for the most part Tennesseans aren't lazy and, I think it's kind of insulting to continuously imply that they are." It is, Senator Campbell, and Democrats ought to be pointing this out at every opportunity, every time the GOP pulls this nonsense.
Republicans love pushing the idea that Americans are inherently lazy and the only way to fix it is to make things as miserable as possible for people, to compel them to work hard. I don't think that's true. I think, if anything, Americans work far too hard, and are so abjectly terrified of being perceived as "lazy" or "entitled" or "ungrateful" that they settle for far too little.
Americans don't want to get paid to sit on their asses, they want to do things the right way. They want to get off their asses and go to jobs that pay them enough to be fully independent. More people having jobs like that is better for all of us.
Pushing people into dead-end jobs to prevent a so-called scourge of "laziness" rather than allowing them time to do things right is, ultimately, irresponsible. It's easier and smarter to do things right from the beginning than to do a slapdash job of things and try to correct everything later.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse