Are extended jobless benefits keeping Americans from returning to work?

ABC News’ Elizabeth Schulze reports on the debate over whether extended unemployment benefits are keeping workers at home as the economy reopens.
6:46 | 06/04/21

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Transcript for Are extended jobless benefits keeping Americans from returning to work?
This morning the Labor Department announced 385000. New unemployment claims were filed last week that's the first time since the V pandemic began at that figure has fallen below 400000 since last march. And tomorrow morning the monthly jobs report will provide new date on how economy is doing as a pandemic gets under control in the US but. A debate now has been raging in recent weeks on whether extended unemployment benefits provided in the latest stimulus deal. For Q some Americans from getting back to work even as businesses now clamor for more workers as the economy reopens. So what's driving the labor shortage and what do businesses need to do in order to bring workers back ABC's Elizabeth shows it takes a look. Is crashing you don't do if you can be able to meet you and me when Rebecca Jiri lost her job as a lab technician in West Virginia last march her biggest fear was caring for her to autistic children. Wyatt and Allison and cast a sort here. Reached. Don't know from one minute to the next few. Insurance cheered your children's needs. Then came a lifeline hundreds of dollars an extra weekly federal unemployment benefits there's no way to weakness or I'll Wear out or. Our businesses are suffering. Our businesses are pleading with our people we got a have you back to work. He's one of the 25 Republican governor is now putting an early end to the extra 300 dollars a week in federal unemployment benefits. The payments were originally funded through September 6 as part of the one point nine trillion dollar American rescue plan. The White House insists the expanded unemployment insurance is essential for the economic recovery. We're not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans. 22 million people lost their jobs in this pandemic. Through no fault of the room. But after job growth missed expectations last month Republican lawmakers called for an end to the federal jobless benefits. Saying their dis incentivizing Americans from returning to work. We should not still be cut from the Americans who are working. Have fond contended doctor benefit proposed. Then all it's a message amplified by businesses from coast to coast that are struggling to find workers I'm just not sure. Extra unemployment benefits are necessary at this point wing there's not really any. Sara white manages three restaurants in Virginia. She's desperate for workers and says only one out of every ten applicants shows up to interview. Weingarten and very very wants me she said it. I know I'm me lasted TE unemployment when my arrogant enemy in this much money is sent home have a great car. That's what someone who is interviewing for a job said to you an employer. Yes I was hurt some employers are reporting an uptick in job applications after some states announced they were ending the federal benefits early. But economists argue extended unemployment benefits are a small piece of the worker shortage puzzle. There's a lot of anecdotes that the unemployment insurance is causing people not come back to were quickly. But it's not in the eight. Research by the San Francisco fed estimates the 300 dollar enhanced weekly benefits had just a small effect on job finding rates. At the beginning of this year there been a couple other times just in the past here when the benefits have almost expired. Have we seen. A huge surge in job applications and. So just the opposite all of those folks and running out of the benefits. I'm sorry panic started to pull back on sending and the economy weakened. One explanation for the current worker shortage is that the economy went from shut down to fully reopened in a matter of weeks says vaccinations ramps up. What happened to the economy when it goes like that from zero to sixty so quickly. Well being what you got from from zero to sixty. It takes the time poorer. People to catch up. Literally and you know overnight. You had millions of job openings so this is something we've never seen before. Economists also say a lack of child care is a key reason why Americans are returning to work. Pointing to the more than two million women who've dropped out of the labor force since last February for the past year Rebecca Yury says she's been applying for up to thirty jobs a week. And still isn't getting any calls back. You have so many. People wish now Harry. And they're not type of companies that work. Your means if she artists actually each child. Whereas your old work would have allowed you to you work full time and also. Take care free to children at home. Absolutely I think some of our ways are still. Struggling through that decision and that issue Nicole Markey is the founder and CEO of seven restaurants in Washington DC and Philadelphia. As a single mom I totally sympathize with parents out there school. Pads made its decision. Going back to work. Or are being home with their child because they were no longer. Going into this school she says other employees were nervous about coming back to work because of calls it health risks. And some switched industries altogether. I recently. Just recruited someone back from Amazon who had laughed. Our company went am asides from work they knew that there wasn't going to be shut down there again facing her own worker shortage marquis announced her restaurants would raise wages to a minimum of fifteen dollars an hour. Job applications surged. I think our employees are demanding mess we've got to pay them. Starting fair please. Oh what has Olson. Or were. It's how you're. And me I have to work. 03 robbed. Us have a trend or. Just to be able to make. Some like 31 year old may have Clark who is laid off from her job last march. CDs wage hikes were overdue for essential workers who have been hit hardest during the pandemic. Well wouldn't you invest into Europe would even so great and equally. Their longest show you know they're there willing to Colombian earlier willing to work late. When you pay them what it work. Well as officials the ABC news Washington. Our thanks to Elizabeth through that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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