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Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

About 1.8 million out-of-work Americans have turned down jobs because of the generosity of unemployment insurance benefits, according to Morning Consult poll results released Wednesday.

Why it matters: U.S. businesses have been wrestling with labor supply shortages as folks capable of working have opted not to work for a variety of reasons.

  • One of the more politically controversial reasons has been the availability of unemployment insurance benefits, in particular emergency provisions that were introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Indeed, 26 states opted to cut emergency benefits early with the intention of incentivizing people to take open jobs.

By the numbers: Morning Consult surveyed 5,000 U.S. adults from June 22-25, 2021.

  • Of those actively collecting unemployment benefits, 29% said they turned down job offers during the pandemic. In response to a follow-up question, 45% of that group said they turned down jobs specifically because of the generosity of the benefits.
  • Extrapolating from the 14.1 million adults collecting benefits as of June 19, Morning Consult concluded that 1.8 million people turned down job offers because of the benefits.

To be clear, this is in regards to any and all unemployment insurance benefits including the standard 26 weeks worth of benefits as well as the emergency benefits that are set to end by September.

  • Furthermore, all 1.8 million won’t necessarily find employment quickly as jobs once offered to them may have been filled by others.

What they’re saying: Morning Consult chief economist John Leer cautions against concluding that this completely validates calls to cut unemployment benefits early.

The bottom line: "Getting people to move from relying on unemployment insurance to wage income doesn't just automatically happen," Leer tells Axios. "There's going to be some searching and matching frictions at work."

Go deeper

1 big thing: The worker's job market

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, FRED; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The unprecedented upheaval of a year-plus of pandemic life is playing out in the job market.

Why it matters: The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. At the same time, the Great Resignation has companies across the country trying desperately to hold on to staff as employees act on pent-up demand for job changes.

July forecasts call for job, wage growth

Expand chart
Data: FRED. Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Economists say job momentum continued in July with 620,000 payroll jobs added. If they're right, it helps chip away at the 6.8 million still needed for a full healing.

  • The unemployment rate could slip to 5.8%, matching a pandemic-era low.
  • Wages are expected to grow 0.2% after gaining 0.3% in June.

The big question is whether it's all enough to entice more sidelined workers back into the job market.

  • The so-called labor force participation rate has barely budged in months.
Jul 31, 2021 - Economy & Business

View from the labor market trenches

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Some job seekers are taking their time...

"There were endless amounts of roles. I could be extremely picky."
Ashley Taylor, who works in software sales.
  • Taylor left her last job in January and within two days had an offer to join another startup. She waited six months and ended up getting an even higher offer from the same company.