WH Economic Adviser: 'Excess Savings' Due to 'Government Help' May Be Factor in Labor Shortage

By Susan Jones | November 11, 2021 | 8:31am EST
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) raises awareness of the Child Tax Credit in Los Angeles in July 15, 2021. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) raises awareness of the Child Tax Credit in Los Angeles in July 15, 2021. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - The economy is creating jobs, but there aren't enough workers to fill them, and there's "not just one single silver bullet that explains all that," White House Economic Adviser Jared Bernstein said on Thursday.

The factors contributing to the labor shortage include "some government help with the checks and unemployment benefits," Bernstein said:

Back in May of 2020, there were 10 million people who told the bureau of labor statistics, I am not in the labor force because I'm concerned about COVID. That number has fallen to the lowest since they're been tracking that data -- 1 million.

People have care concerns -- there's issues with schools that are very much improving, and, by the way, vaccinating kids is going to be very important to solving this, and we almost have a million vaccinations in the past week of kids.

And then, of course, some people had excess savings because they spent less on in-person services and they got some government help with the checks and unemployment benefits, and as they spend through those, we expect that also will have folks coming back into the job market soon.

President Biden, speaking at the Port of Baltimore on Thursday, acknowledged that because of him, "people have more money now," and that "creates a real problem" because with "more people with money buying product and less product to buy, what happens?...Prices go up," he said.

He linked government checks to both inflation and supply chain issues:

And the irony is, people have more money now, because of the first piece of major legislation I passed -- they all got checks for $1,400, you got checks for a whole range of things.

If you're a mom and you have kids under the age of seven, you get $300 a month. And if it's over 7 to 17, you're getting $360 a month like wealthy people used to do when they get back tax returns. It changed people's lives. But -- what happens if there's nothing to buy? You got more money, you compete for getting it there -- it creates a real problem.

So, on the one hand, we're facing new disruptions to our supplies. At the same time, we're also experiencing higher demand for goods because wages are up, as well as people have money in the bank. And because of the strength of our economic recovery, American families have been able to buy more products.

And -- but guess what, they're not going out to dinner and lunch and going to local bars because of COVID. So, what are they doing? They're staying home, they're ordering online, and they're buying product. Well, with more people with money buying product and less product to buy, what happens?...Prices go up. So, we got nearly a 20 percent more goods coming into the country than we did before the pandemic struck. In 19 days -- excuse me, COVID-19 has changed the way we spend our time and our money. More products are being delivered than ever before.

That's because people have little more breathing room than they did last year, and that's a good thing. But it also means we got higher demand for goods at the same time we're facing disruptions in the supplies that make those goods. This is a recipe for delays and for higher prices, and people are feeling it. They're feeling it.

The Democrats' American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, provided stimulus checks of $1,400 per person to millions of qualifying Americans.

The American Rescue Plan also provided monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child to millions of families. President Biden's Build Back Better Act would make those tax credit payments permanent.

As part of the CARES Act, passed on March 27th, 2020, millions of Americans received expanded unemployment benefits, but those expired in early September.

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