Biden Is Right: Americans Should Not Receive Unemployment Benefits if They Can Work

May 12, 2021Commentary, Safety Net, Work

There has been some debate about President Biden’s recent statement that Americans who turn down jobs won’t be able to receive unemployment benefits. There shouldn’t be any debate at all.

Prior to the pandemic, the law required people who received unemployment benefits to search for jobs and to accept suitable work if offered to them. If they refused an offer of suitable work, then they were no longer eligible to receive benefits. These requirements have been part of the unemployment system for a long time; however, due to the pandemic many states paused the requirement to search for work.

Although this pause may have been appropriate temporarily, it is important to reinstate work-search requirements as soon as possible because they recognize the principle that work is a blessing. Work allows us to create value with our lives and build character, and it helps lift us to self-reliance. There are no “dead-end” jobs because all meaningful work adds value to our lives and to society.

Keeping people dependent on government assistance is never a victory–we should do all we can to help Americans be productive through meaningful work and become–and remain–self-reliant. Requiring recipients of unemployment benefits to search for work and to accept suitable work encourages productivity and self-reliance.

Now that the pandemic is easing, states should reinstate these requirements. Our public policy should encourage people who are capable of working, and who are presented with opportunities to do so, to work.

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