Poll: Plurality of voters say unemployment benefits causing job growth slowdown

More voters think people are not returning to work because they would rather rely on unemployment benefits, than those who think poor working conditions and low wages are the reason, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll. 

Those surveyed were asked which statement comes closest to their views: that many are relying on unemployment benefits rather than trying to go back to work; and low wages and poor working conditions are preventing people from looking for work. 

Forty-four percent of registered voters in the May 14-15 survey said the first statement came closest to their views, compared to 18 percent who said the second statement did.

Twenty-seven percent said both statements came closest to their views, and 10 percent said neither did.

A majority of Republican voters, 65 percent, cast unemployment benefits as the reason people weren’t returning to work.

Many GOP office holders have blamed overly generous benefits for serving as a disincentive to work. The most recent COVID-19 relief bill included a $300 per week federal benefit, though some states led by GOP governors have ended it.

Seventy-two percent of voters who backed former President Trump in 2020 said the unemployment benefits were to blame.

A plurality of Democrats and people who voted for President Biden said it was both the unemployment benefits and low wages that were keeping workers out of the labor force, at 36 and 37 percent, respectively.

Democrats have argued a series of factors, including problems with child care, are contributing to people not returning to work.

The debate was turbo-charged by a disappointing jobs report for the month of April.

The most recent Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 932 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

Gabriela Schulte

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