GOP Gov. on Ending Pandemic Jobless Aid: 'We Cannot Pay … Workers To Stay Home'


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) decided to stop enhanced unemployment benefits, saying, “We cannot pay… workers to stay home.”

During an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday, host John Berman asked Hutchinson how and why he made this decision.

“The extra compensation was very helpful during the dark days of the pandemic when unemployment rates were so high, but now our economy has come back, we have jobs aplenty. We have employers that are begging workers to come to their place of business,” Hutchinson said.

He added, “We cannot pay extra compensation for workers to stay home. We need them in the place of employment so that’s the simple rationale for it.”

Hutchinson reiterated the residents of his state want to get back to work, but “found that that enhanced benefit was simply an impediment.”

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Watch his comments below:

Berman pushed back pointing out U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and others suggest, “On the lower-wage jobs there actually hasn’t been a decrease in hiring. There’s an increase in hiring. The decrease in hiring came in higher-wage jobs.”

The Republican governor explained his state has skilled workers to fill jobs and “if they average $15 an hour, then you’re getting more than that in incentives to stay home.”

He argued, “Work should always reward more than unemployment.”

When asked if companies could raise their pay, Hutchinson replied, “They have raised their pay. Employers all across our state and the country have consistently been more competitive in their salaries.”

Hutchinson added, “Still, they’re competing with free money. They’re competing with benefits that they can’t provide nor should they have to be able to provide.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) also ordered her state to stop participating in federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

“As Alabama’s economy continues its recovery, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available jobs, even though job openings are abundant,” Ivey said in a statement.

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She continued, “Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work.”

During a White House press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about whether unemployment benefits discourage Americans from returning to work, as IJR reported.

“We don’t see much evidence that the extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce,” Psaki said.

President Joe Biden also pushed back on the claim at the White House on Monday, “The line has been because of the generous unemployment benefits, that it’s a major factor in labor shortages. Americans want to work. Americans want to work.” 

He added, “I think the people claiming Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people.”

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