Given the precariousness of so many Americans’ financial situation in 2019, the effect of relief and stimulus money was more subtle and important than many observers fully appreciated while these programs were underway. And while it may be comforting to assign blame for problems on one villainous party — lazy workers, greedy business owners, overspending government — the real story is far more complex and interesting than any one of those reductive explanations. It’s not that working American’s were suddenly willing to quit a job they loved over a $1,200 check (or three). It’s that for the first time in a generation, they finally felt like they had a choice to quit a job they hated.
. Although some employers and politicians blamed federal stimulus and relief money for keeping workers off the job, the end of those programs as early as June in some states has not brought about a noticeable bump in hiring, according to the latest Beige Book from the
Employers are legitimately struggling to get people to show up to a job. Workers are sending dozens and hundreds of applications with no response. Inflation is ticking up, wait times for products and services are lengthening, and customer satisfaction is shrinking. The past two months have seen the end of expanded unemployment benefits, many employers raising wages 20% or more, 8 million jobless people actively looking for work, and another 6 million people sidelined from the labor force.
He now works as an office manager for a local small business and had has side hustles in event entertainment, web design, and other freelance gigs — a far cry from 2019 when he says he was working up to 70 hours a week doing manual labor for $12 an hour. Less than 20% of households received jobless benefits in 2020, even though roughly half lost income that year, the Census Bureau found. And prior research on stimulus shows that emergency checks are mostly used up within a few months, according to economist Claudia Sahm. “Most people don’t even have a day to figure that out, so that little tiny bit of breathing room was all it took,” he said.
Holz told Insider his initial stimulus check lasted about a month, allowing him to pay rent and groceries while he sought out a new opportunity. “It gave me the power to walk away from what was a toxic work environment at the time,” said Joey Holz, who was working for a charter boat company in Florida when the pandemic hit. “Then I was able to start pursuing interests that were better suited to my future.”
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