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Yes, you can make more on unemployment than by working

Economists said it's one of the main reasons there's a shortage of workers across the country and in North Carolina.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Every time we post a story about a shortage of workers, a whole bunch of folks sound off on social media with the same idea about why it was so hard to find employees.

Stephanie's post is a good example. She writes: "Well the issue is unemployment pays out more than minimum wage, so anyone working a low-income job isn't stupid enough to go back to work to make less than they make sitting at home."

Folks, you're not just imagining this. It's true. WFMY News 2 crunched the numbers today. For example, take a lifeguard at Carolina Harbor. Because of a staffing shortage, they have to push opening day back to June 12. Right now that job is posted at $15.50 per hour. That person working full time would make $620 bucks a week. However, before COVID happened that same person would only make $350 a week on unemployment. But the most recent coronavirus relief package increased the amount. Now that person might make up to $750 per week depending on which benefits they qualify for with the state. More than they would make working.

The statistics website Fivethirtyeight.com looked at the top 10 most common careers. It revealed 7 of the 10 are making more money on unemployment than they do working right now. Workers in food service, janitorial, medical assistants, sales and retail, transportation, construction and even teachers now make more on unemployment. The three industries that still make more working are nurses and therapists, managers and IT people.

President Joe Biden said this isn't how the system works, but his administration will not turn its back on people who are still hurting from the pandemic. According to the President, there are still 8 million fewer jobs available than before the pandemic. He explains his administration isn't seeing evidence that more people are being paid to stay home rather than returning to work.

"We're going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits. There are few COVID-19 related exceptions, so people aren't forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck. But otherwise, that's the law," Biden said.

There is a system in place to make sure people aren't just sitting around doing nothing, while they collect a check for free. As long as you file unemployment, you have to refile every week you draw benefits. A person is required to show they're actively searching for work, by providing documentation showing they contacted at least three employers. With the pandemic, that has been loosened as long as someone can prove they've participated in reemployment events such as career fairs. But the Biden administration wants to tough back up that standard, and they released a new plan to do that Monday.

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