MINOT, N.D. — When Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, announced an end to North Dakota's participation in a federally backed, pandemic-era expansion of unemployment benefits the rhetorical reaction from the Democratic-NPL was vehement.
And that's putting it lightly.
But we're starting to see the real-world economic impacts of ending the federal "top off" unemployment benefit — which included an additional $300 per worker, per week, as well as a duration extension to 18 months — and so far they seem positive.
Or, pretty much exactly what the Republican leaders, like Burgum, who supported an end to the benefits predicted.
"The number of unemployment-benefit recipients is falling at a faster rate in Missouri and 21 other states canceling enhanced and extended payments this month, suggesting that ending the aid could push more people to take jobs," the Wall Street Journal reports.
An analysis from economists at Jeffries LLC found that the number of workers receiving benefits in states, such North Dakota, that ended the expanded benefits in June fell by 13.8%.
That compares to a 10% decline in states ending expanded benefits in July, and just a 5.7% decline in states that ended benefits in September.
If our goal is to get American workers back to a posture of self-sufficiency, and it should be, this is happy news.
More people who are gainfully employed, and fewer people who are dependent on the government, is a better situation for our society.
Democrats have argued that Americans aren't returning to work post-pandemic because employers aren't paying enough. They're trying to use the economic crisis we've just weathered to promote their long-standing social agenda. Yet the early numbers suggest that this is a smokescreen.
Increasing unemployment benefits during a time of national emergency made sense, but as we've moved past that emergency that safety net became a hammock for some. What Democrats, including Mr. Hart, have portrayed as cruelty is more fairly characterized as tough love.
There are many downsides to incentivizing Americans from removing themselves from gainful employment for long periods of time, among them mental health challenges, not to mention an opportunity cost measured in lost experience and skills.
Our liberal friends tend promote a very static view of the economic lives of Americans. To hear them tell it, someone who makes the minimum wage will always make the minimum wage. The only way that person will make more is if the government gives them a raise by inflating the minimum.
But that's not how it works.
For most, work is a ladder. You start at the low end of the pay scale, and as you gain experience and skills, you move up. But the only way to climb that ladder is to work.
This is why disincentivizing work is a terrible idea.
Besides, the businesses hurt most by inflating the cost of labor are the small, regional businesses, which might as well be a subsidy for big business.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.