Bipartisan legislation would incentivize employment with $180 weekly payments to find work

A restaurant displays a "Now Hiring" sign amid the coronavirus pandemic, on August 4, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of representatives this week introduced legislation to incentivize people returning to work as businesses across the U.S. struggle to find workers for hire.

Reps. Peter Meijer, R-Mich.; Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., on Friday introduced the Strengthening Unemployment Programs to Provide Opportunities for Recovery and Training (SUPPORT) for New Workers Act, which gives those who find employment after previously being unemployed weekly payments of $180.

The $180 amount represents 60% of the $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits that the Biden administration is paying to those without work until Sept. 6.

"While the end of the pandemic is in sight and life is steadily getting back to normal for many people, our country is experiencing a serious workforce crisis that is severely hindering what could otherwise be a strong rebound from COVID-19 and the challenges it presented," Meijer said in a Friday statement. 

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(Photo by Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

He continued: "I hear from employers across West Michigan nearly every day about the labor supply problem that is forcing businesses to either reduce hours or close because they can’t find willing employees. The Biden Administration’s enhanced federal unemployment benefits incentivize Americans to stay home rather than get back to work."

Some employers and politicians have expressed concerns that unemployment benefits may be incentivizing people not to work as businesses face a severe shortage of new workers as demand increases and lockdown restrictions ease.

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Critics argue that other factors, such as a lack of child care, are the reason for lackluster hiring and have said that opting out of the relief program before it's officially slated to end on Sept. 6 will hurt unemployed Americans, leaving them with no income as they search for a new job. 

There remain about 7.4 million fewer jobs than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic shut down broad swaths of the nation's economy. 

About 14.8 million workers are relying on some form of unemployment benefits as their main source of income, according to the Century Foundation.

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