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Researcher: Gov. Ducey's 'Back To Work' Plan Will Hurt Arizona's Recovery

As Americans slowly return to pre-pandemic lifestyles, employers who had either laid-off or terminated workers at the beginning of the outbreak are having difficulty finding new or returning employees to staff their businesses.

Some business advocates say the federal unemployment insurance supplement is disincentivizing Americans from returning to work. Simply put, they’re making more on unemployment than they would going back to work.

In response to this employment crunch, the Republican governors of 16 states — including Gov. Doug Ducey here in Arizona — have announced they are rescinding the distribution of supplemental federal unemployment funds in their states — that’s an extra $300 per week.

Last week, Gov. Ducey made the announcement as part of what he calls his “Arizona Back to Work” plan.

“Effective July 10, Arizona will not be paying the federal supplement to unemployed workers,” Ducey said. “And we’re actually going to take things a step further: Rather than paying people not to work, we will be offering a one-time bonus of $2,000 to any eligible Arizonan who returns to the workforce and gets a job.”

But those representing the labor force say the issues run deeper — that many workers are still wary of getting infected with COVID-19, that many jobs are low paying and that people with children can’t find enough child care.

Steve Chucri is the president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association, and he acknowledges the hardships that the pandemic has presented to the region’s service workers.

“I don’t want to suggest that any of these individuals are just lazy, wanting to stay at home,” Chucri said. “Some have had to care for a parent or a loved one who was coming out of COVID or had COVID. Others just wanted a break from working three jobs, and we completely understand that.”

But Chucri argues unemployment insurance is not meant to be a permanent fix.

“It comes to the underlying premise and the fundamental belief that if you can really be actively engaged and employed, no one should just be getting a government handout. We’re all paying for that. I don’t want to pay someone who is very able and capable of working to sit at home and not work,” Chucri said.

Andrew Stettner, though, argues the opposite.

Stettner is a senior fellow with the left-leaning Century Foundation, and The Show spoke with him more about why he argues this is bad policy.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.