The labor market’s recovery may be running into resistance from the government’s boost to unemployment benefits.
Job openings in the retail trade sector rose in February, according to data from the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. In January, employers posted 793,000 help wanted notices. These rose to 817,000 in February.
But the number of hires actually fell in February, the second straight monthly decline.
In other words, the number of people retail businesses want to hire is rising. But the number of people accepting jobs in retail trade is falling.
The best explanation for this is that many of the people who would ordinarily accept these jobs are receiving more in unemployment benefits than employers can afford to pay. That’s largely due to the $300 per week emergency enhancement to regular unemployment benefits. Under the current program, around half of all those on unemployment