Job searches spiked in states cutting unemployment benefits, analysis shows

The premature loss of unemployment benefits in two dozen states caused a modest uptick in job searches, according to a new analysis published by Indeed this week.  Wisconsin's unemployment work search requirement kicked back in Sunday, May 23 after it was waived as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 24 Republican states decided this month to opt out of the federal unemployment program that provided out-of-work Americans with an extra $300 a week, on top of their regular state benefits. The supplemental benefit is not slated to expire until Sept. 6, 2021.

Job search activity rose by 5% the day each state announced its plan to cut off the sweetened aid, according to Indeed data. A broad range of sectors saw search activity climb, but the increase was largest for marketing, sales and hospitality and tourism jobs. 

But the increase was temporary, disappearing by the eighth day after the announcement, Indeed found. By the second week following the announcement, job search activity in the states had returned to its April levels.

"It is, of course, still unclear how this temporary boost in search activity will affect hiring or wages," the study said. "And the premature end of these benefits in June and July could well have a different effect on search activity, hiring, and wages than these announcements in May did."

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming are moving to drastically reduce unemployment benefits sometime over the summer. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

At least four Republican-led states – Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire and Oklahoma – will give workers up to $2,000 when they accept a new job. 

Roughly 4 million people will lose their jobless aid as a result of the new policies, according to one estimate from the left-leaning Century Foundation. 

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The new measures come in light of the Labor Department's April payroll report, which revealed the economy added just 266,000 jobs last month – sharply missing the 1 million forecast by Refinitiv economists. GOP lawmakers were quick to blame the extra unemployment aid for the lackluster job growth, although experts have also cited a lack of child care and fears of contracting COVID-19 for the hiring shortage. 

The average state unemployment benefit is about $330 per week. With the federal supplement, Americans are receiving about $630 in weekly unemployment benefits. (For comparison's sake, that's about $32,000 annually, or roughly double the nation's minimum wage.)

There remain about 8.2 million fewer jobs than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic shut down broad swaths of the nation's economy. 

For more, check out