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Politics Spencer Cox, Utah GOP governor, defends Republicans' push to end enhanced unemployment

18:05  09 may  2021
18:05  09 may  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Booms in Idaho, Utah buck the curve of slowing US growth

  Booms in Idaho, Utah buck the curve of slowing US growth SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two Western states known for their rugged landscapes and wide-open spaces are bucking the trend of sluggish U.S. population growth, which dipped to the lowest level since the Great Depression, though different forces are powering the population booms in Utah and Idaho. In Utah, births largely drove the fastest growth in the country over the past decade. In neighboring Idaho, newcomers from California and other states helped it capture the second spot.“I don’t ever remember seeing anything like this,” said Bill Rauer, executive officer of the Idaho Building Contractors Association in southwest Idaho, the state’s most populous area.

Utah GOP Gov. Spencer Cox on Sunday defended Republicans' push to end enhanced unemployment, saying that although some families continue to struggle amid the pandemic's economic fallout, the benefit must be rolled back "at some point."

text, letter: In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. - The government reported Thursday that another 5.2 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits, taking the four-week total to 22 million, a staggering figure in a downturn that economists say presents the country with its most severe outlook since the Great Depression of the 1930s. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images) © Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. - The government reported Thursday that another 5.2 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits, taking the four-week total to 22 million, a staggering figure in a downturn that economists say presents the country with its most severe outlook since the Great Depression of the 1930s. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Citing the state's low unemployment rate, Cox told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" that the biggest problem in Utah is finding workers for unfilled jobs, and claimed officials have found that the federal jobless benefits, including the $300 weekly boost meant to help people out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic "is a disincentive."

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"It is a terrible jobs report," he said, referring to Friday's report that showed the US economy added a scant 266,000 jobs in April, "but that's what happens when we pay people not to work. There are families struggling, we want to help them out, but at some point, have to roll that back."

Several Republican governors have announced they are planning to roll back the enhanced benefits, including the governors of Montana, South Carolina and Arkansas, with that state's governor saying "employees are as scarce today as jobs were a year ago."


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The federal benefits not only include an extra $300 in unemployment payments, but also payments for freelancers, independent contractors, certain people affected by the virus and those who've run out of their regular state benefits.

Governor says Utah won't mandate masks in schools next fall

  Governor says Utah won't mandate masks in schools next fall SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah's governor said Thursday the state has no plans to require masks for students in K-12 schools next fall, following months of mounting pressure from parents calling for the mandate's end. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has previously defended his administration’s decision to mandate masks in schools this school year against parent protests, but now says the state's rising vaccination rates indicate that districts are prepared to limit restrictions. “We now have the ability for those that have concerns about the virus to protect ourselves much more,” Cox told The Associated Press.

Whether the beefed up benefits are keeping people from accepting job offers is a matter of debate. Economists at the University of Chicago and Yale University, among others, found that last year's $600 supplement had little to no impact on laid-off workers' decisions.

President Joe Biden has said the extra benefits do not act as a disincentive for people to return to work.

Asked about the benefits on "State of the Union" Sunday, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeffrey Zients told Tapper that "people want to work" and said that there "are still difficult hurdles for people working, including health concerns around the pandemic, child care."

"The American Rescue Plan was a really important piece of legislation ... to help us recover and build back better," said Zients, who served as director of the Obama White House's National Economic Council, referring to the massive aid package that provided the existing enhanced benefits.

'The law is clear': Biden attacks GOP's talking point on unemployment benefits .
President Joe Biden on Monday directly addressed a rising critique of the enhanced unemployment benefits included in his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending plan as he announced a host of new economic recovery actions, including new guidance to help states disburse pandemic child care aid.Both items were included in the president's recently unveiled plan for helping workers re-enter the workforce and come after a disappointing report from the Department of Labor last week.

usr: 6
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