- The continued spread of the aggressive Delta variant of COVID-19 could lead states like Florida to offer additional unemployment benefits, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a Interview with Bloomberg.
- “If Florida has to close – let’s say the numbers keep going up in the next week or two, and it gets to the point where people are just scared to go on their doorstep,” Walsh told Bloomberg, “then it will … There has to be a safety net for the families who cannot go to work because their industry is closed. “
- Several states have suspended federal unemployment benefits because of concerns about them discouraged Return to work. Walsh said he hoped these states will reconsider in the face of the swelling virus.
Walsh, along with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, sent a letter to Congress last week saying that state and local governments could use pandemic remedies for additional relief. In the 25 states that still offer it, the $ 300-a-week federal emergency allowance and other aid will expire on September 6th.
“If I were mayor today, I would be watching these numbers very, very closely, and if I felt like I could save people’s lives and protect people by locking up, I would,” Walsh told Bloomberg . Before he became Secretary of Labor, Walsh was mayor of Boston.
However, any sort of mandatory closure and extension of Florida unemployment is unlikely, as is Governor Ron DeSantis he said wouldn’t close the state earlier this month. DeSantis has also turned back much of the federal aid provided by the pandemic and cut the amount of federal unemployment benefits that unemployed Floridians could receive from pandemic aid. His decision to end or cut back on these benefits arose out of discussions with small business owners who continued to struggle to recruit new workers, a Washington Post spokesman said.
The Delta variant has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, particularly in southern states like Florida, just as many companies have begun asking their employees to return to the office. For construction that has never really stalled and cannot be done from home, unemployment benefits can help protect workers and save lives, but it could also mean that at a time when the industry is already is faced with a skilled labor crisis, fewer workers are available on the construction site.
Early this summer, Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of Associated General Contractors of America, called on President Joe Biden’s administration to phase out unemployment benefits that keep people away from work.
“A lot of construction companies would probably be busier if they could just find materials for their projects and workers for their teams,” he said. “Ending a program that basically pays people not to work will help, especially if the administration also removes tariffs that drive up the price of essential building materials.”