On Monday, Governor Tate Reeves announced come June 12 that Mississippi would no longer participate in federal unemployment supplemental benefits offered due to COVID-19. However, not everyone was in favor of that decision.
Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party Tyree Irving questioned the decision made by Reeves in a statement released on Tuesday.
“Governor Tate Reeves has decided to take away unemployment benefits to struggling Mississippians for the purpose, allegedly, of forcing them to take a job in lieu of the benefits. I have three questions for our Governor: First, has he done any study to ascertain the number, kind, and quality of jobs available and matched them to the skill set of the unemployed persons who, apparently, he believes would rather take a handout than work? Second, if he has not done such a study, has it occurred to him that he is perpetuating the age-old myth that the poor is poor because they do not want to work? Third, when will he declare his opposition to handouts to others in the form of subsidies and tax breaks to multimillion/multinational corporations?
Mississippi boasts one of the highest poverty rates in the United States. The decision to forgo federal dollars that would assist struggling Mississippians, at no additional cost to the State, is cold and heartless. Raising the minimum wage to a living wage or to $15.00 per hour may also be an incentive to boost the number of people seeking employment. It is my hope that Governor Reeves, along with his Republican colleagues, will focus on improving the low wages that continue to plague our State and that have caused us to lose population and growth to other Southern states.”
The decision from Reeves came after small businesses had expressed that the lack of workers was hurting their operations. The NFIB of Mississippi as well as lawmakers like Speaker of the House Philip Gunn joined in that chorus.
Those who saw a need to end these unemployment benefits said many workers are drawing from benefits and refusing to come back to work or obtain employment. Reports were made to Speaker Gunn that some businesses were getting over a dozen requests for interviews, just to have no one turn up. They believe those individuals were using the set up interview proof as a way to claim they were seeking employment unsuccessfully.
For some of these individuals, the federal unemployment supplemental benefits offered exceed a typical paycheck.