Benefits: Alaskans earn so much staying home, they aren't even looking for work - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, June 17, 2021
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Benefits: Alaskans earn so much staying home, they aren’t even looking for work

The Alaska Policy Forum has analyzed how much Alaskans are making on unemployment insurance benefits and has discovered the reason why businesses can’t get people to apply for jobs: Alaskans can earn the equivalent of nearly $33 per hour just by staying home. 

To continue distributing a Covid-19 bonus for unemployment will exacerbate the problem, the conservative think tank said.

The APF analysis shows:

Currently, the average single-parent family with two children in Alaska could earn $3,657 each month in cash or cash-equivalent government benefits—equal to more than $43,000 per year.  

After factoring in non-cash welfare programs like Medicaid benefits, these Alaskans could earn up to $5,711 per month, or more than $68,000 per year.  That’s the equivalent of receiving nearly $33 per hour to not work, APF calculated.

Unemployment bonuses discourage a return to work, with even the current $300 weekly bonus paying low-wage Alaska workers, on average, 11 percent more than they would be earning while working. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the previous congressional UI bonus created a situation where five in every six unemployed claimants would receive more by remaining unemployed than they would by returning to work, reducing total employment.  

According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, when compared to the national average, Alaska has a higher taxable wage base as well as greater program duration and dependency.  Alaska is also one of just 13 states that already has a dependent benefit provision, further underscoring the generosity of Alaska’s UI system.

More unemployed Alaskans are receiving unemployment insurance than any peer western state.  Unsurprisingly, continuing unemployment claims in Alaska are still 70 percent higher than they were prior to the pandemic.

Since Covid-19 policies were implemented, Alaska’s UI trust fund balance has declined by more than 40 percent.  At the same time, Alaska has the third-highest average employer tax, per covered employee, and the fifth-highest average UI tax rate as a percent of total wages.  

The Anchorage group has advised state lawmakers that Alaska “should reject calls to create a new state-level UI benefit that will cost businesses, strain the state’s UI trust fund, increase dependency, and discourage a return to work.”

Dig deeper: Alaska Policy Forum.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The parasite has become bigger than the host

  • I can’t imagine this comes as a surprise to anyone.

  • Enployers are desperate to fill positions and the competition is low enough for reliable newbies with no desirable skills for the job be given a chance to be trained ahead of time before the desirable candidate runs out of unemployment benefits and they need work, and you have their job. Hahaha
    This isn’t doesn’t have to be looked at as dire for employers. This is an Opportunistic time they can get better employees, they just might have to train a sober reliable applicant from scratch.

  • If i was the employer, I would go straight to the churches asking their leaderships, do you have any single parents, young adults, adults needing work, I’d hit the streets cause not all peoples on the streets are drunks, addicts, and mentally unstable. I wouldnt be too picky as long as the applicant can keep a schedule. Employers need to produce money. There are employees out there, they just haven’t been given a chance or they are burned out from toxic workplaces, or they just want something part-time and share the other half with another part-time worker.

  • Only the big corporations will be able to compete with government handouts, thereby continuing to hurt small businesses.

    Additionally, Americans are being quietly lulled into the coma that allows Socialism to swallow them up.

    God, have mercy on us!

  • It will also cause an increase of under the table jobs. As dan bongino explained on his podcast today. The broken leg syndrome. The “undocumented” unlicensed and unfair “businesses” will end up providing work $ cash. Jobs. Putting legal businesses in the Toilet.
    Top it off with us money sent out of USA so it does not even stimulate the local economy.

  • No one is talking about covid renters assistance. A whole year, rent free!
    Money is sent directly to landlords. Pretty sure that’s a good reason people don’t want to work. Alaska UI and covid unemployment assistance are 2 different things. It’s actually difficult to even get unemployment.
    As for the Covid assistance payments, what defines someone as needing covid assistance is vague and surely being abused across the country.

  • Isn’t that the enticement and objective of communism? Make the public slaves to the government by making them want to be slaves.
    .
    We’re more than half-way there.

  • If they’re not even looking for work, does that mean that they’re unemployed, but not listed in the unemployment numbers?

  • Are they going to audit ppp loan recipients? I sure hope so down in Juneau it seems like that money was wasted on owners going on vacations and new cars..

  • All This covid crap/money grab is out of control. Free money, who’s going to be paying for all this.
    Just like Fauci taking away all your rights.
    Yesterday he said masks are going to be seasonal.

  • The same thing is happening down here in Florida. Most fast food restaurants still have their lobbies closed because they are running a skeleton crew in the kitchen and then drive through. I bought a new boat motor from a guy, and while I was at his Warehouse picking it up he mentioned that he can’t even get good Warehouse help offering them $18 an hour to start with no experience. That’s pretty good money down here in rural Florida. Several decades ago when I once Drew unemployment insurance, you had to do a job search each week in order to stay qualified for the benefit. They’re bringing that requirement back but I don’t know who’s going to be checking the millions of people to see if they’re still actively looking for work. It’s just a bunch of leeches taking advantage of the situation like leeches always do. We need to cut off the supply of blood and they will go back to their old ways of living under rocks.

  • if you are able to work. Have a job offer refuse to the job offer. Called to return to work by your employer and you do not accept or return to being employed then you a should not be entitled to UI.
    Employers need to report those who are not accepting jobs or returning to work.

  • Does this keep Biden from being the president of the highest unemployment since the great depression?

  • We laid you off and you ungrateful former employees are unwilling to return to work so the wealthy can be waited on. How dare you think of yourself and not your ungrateful former employer. Bosses might actually have to work instead of sitting in their offices.

  • I just don’t get the rationale for paying people more to not work. With every bill that passes and every letter written to our senators I am learning they know little about what’s actually happening in the state. They think they are doing people a favor when in actually they are seriously damaging more than just our economy. Nothing compares with hard work and getting your hands dirty yet we rob people of the very thing that will help them be resilient and successful. I can’t imagine what the justification was for giving people more than they were formerly making. I’ve met people who stopped paying their rent and went on foodstamps, despite making more in unemployment than they were when they were working…???? That math only works in the minds of politicians who get paid whether they actually do their job or not.

  • Joe Waiter, you are so right! Private business with the risks, the hundred hour work weeks, the stress to stay afloat, should just be eliminated and the government take over and pay everyone no matter what they do. That’s always worked out well-for the conquerors.

  • This is devastating to small businesses and landlords. And neither receives any relief as far as I am aware. Our small business has more work than we can manage but we cannot find anyone skilled in our field which is technical. We make a good income so would never qualify for any assistance nor would apply but we could sure use a couple more employees as we cannot keep up with customer needs.

    My elderly parents, in their mid 80’s and in another state, live on their rental incomes from four small houses, two of which the tenants are no longer paying rent. Those two tenants cannot be evicted because of Covid, are likely receiving the Covid cash, but are using the Covid provisions to just live rent free while my parents can barely make ends meet, and there is no help for them and no recourse that they can find.

    It is awful and a huge boon for the liberal left who maxed out every opportunity possible with Covid to gain power through pushing of entitlement and government dependence, adding to the usefulness of keeping the populace dumb, drugged and dependent, but making sure they vote.

  • Take away the PFD and that will also help force people to work low wages jobs.

  • Joe waiter will be sad when the free money runs out and the place he once worked is no longer in business.

  • Harborguy, you sure are a hateful person. Give it all to big brother and big brother will take care of you. Right. PFD is not the people’s money. Give me my mineral rights.

  • Many other states have been waking up to this disaster as it is happening. They are re-adjusting their unemployment benefits and/or cutting back the excess cash to those refusing to work. Instead of the present high amount, they are cutting it back $200-$300. Judgment Day is coming next year when they have to pay taxes on all the unemployment benefits.

    And taxes next year are bound to be higher due to the present Presidential Cabinet.

  • The highest level Alaska pays is 327$ weekly. Add 300$ that is just over 15$ an hour. Not the 33$ claimed by the author.

  • Suzanne, I will respectfully suggest one small correction: I believe the line “Alaskans can earn the equivalent of nearly $33 per hour just by staying home.” is incorrect. They are not earning the money. They are taking it. – MJohn

  • Are you talking about the Alaska legislature? They seem to stay home alot and not do much…except pick up a big per diem check everday.

  • So Anchorage just opened up fully and many companies require masks. Alaska has a huge issue with cost of living vs. rate of pay. You can’t rent anything under $1,000. Food is scary expensive and our economy ships out all our goods and who gains? Not the people. There are resumes listed for all the unemployed. Slum laborers can look there …. or keep looking for illegal labor internationally.or pay a decent wage … Forcing the state to close and not making a living is death to our economy. Unemployment isn’t the the problem. The scamdeic and the greedy politicians who have enslaved the people are. Who pays politicians any way ….. our taxes. Let’s put the people in their place and make them slave for housing and make them work 2 jobs to survive in the non last frontier. F#$%THIS.

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