How the post-COVID economic recovery can benefit all Americans

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The expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits in the United States has come and gone with no noticeable impact on the number of Americans seeking work. This should come as no surprise. Arguments made by uninformed and self-interested low-wage employers who blamed the pandemic-era safety net for their inability to fill open positions never held water. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has shown that early suspension of benefits in some states had no noticeable impact on their unemployment rates.

The challenge of employing more than 8 million jobless Americans will not be solved by cutting benefits. Rather, we need a more substantial change in our social contract. Before the pandemic, the U.S. economy was close to full employment (as traditionally defined), with an unemployment rate of 3.5% in February 2020. The economy had added more than 2 million jobs over the previous year, in what had been the longest economic expansion in…

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