Evidence is emerging that should begin to resolve national controversy on two critical issues, policing and jobs.
Eric Adams’ victory in the Democrat primary in the New York City mayoral race reveals that people of color do not want to “defund the police” as progressives demand. According to The New York Times, Adams “rejected calls to defund the Police Department and pledged to expand its reach in the city.” “Black and brown voters flocked to his candidacy…”
On the economic front, last week brought welcome news of a big jump in national employment in June (next week, we’ll find out whether Connecticut participated). Yet a new study showed that the central feature of the first of President Biden’s several planned multi-trillion-dollar programs is backfiring. The extension of the very generous supplemental $300 weekly unemployment insurance benefit under Biden’s American Rescue Plan is hindering a jobs recovery.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the study showed that the twenty-two states that stopped paying the supplement in June have seen their unemployment rolls drop twice as fast as the rolls in the 24 states, including Connecticut, that are still planning to pay the supplement until September. Four states are ending the benefit in July.
Surprise, real people – actual voters and potential workers – make decisions in their practical self-interest, not according to progressive dogma. Blacks voting for Adams prefer more cops to keep the streets safe rather than more social workers to do more social work. The Times reported that Adams “focused much of his message on denouncing progressive slogans and policies that he said threatened the lives of ‘Black and brown babies’ and were being pushed by ‘a lot of young, white, affluent people.’”
Surprise, unemployed workers are “profit maximizers” – at least, in the short term. It only makes sense, if you can make more on unemployment than in the workplace, to stay home and collect unemployment. However, the long-term consequences are negative for both businesses and workers.
The tragedy is that Blacks living in dangerous neighborhoods are paying the price now for progressive policies and, likely, will pay in the long term, as will unemployed workers who may be profit-maximizing now.
Violent crime has skyrocketed in urban centers, where a disproportionate percentage of Blacks live (in Chicago, there were “at least 108 shootings” – “at least 17 fatal” – over July 4th weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune). This is the damage wrought so far by progressives’ anti-police crusade.
It can only get worse. Police officers are retiring and quitting in record numbers as reported recently in The New York Times, In 2020, retirements from the New York City Police Department jumped to 2,600 from 1,500 the prior year. It is not just big cities. In Ashville, North Carolina, the police chief told The Times “We have lost about one-third of our staff to resignation and retirement.” Police departments nationwide are having trouble recruiting new officers.
Fewer cops will mean more violent crime, particularly in Black neighborhoods. Evidently, Adams and Black voters in New York City understand this simple reality.
On the economic front, persistently high unemployment has adverse consequences. Paying unemployment benefits is costly, first, to states, and, ultimately, to their businesses, which face higher future taxes to replenish states’ unemployment trust funds.
Businesses are having difficulty finding workers and are having to pay signing bonuses and higher wages to lure them off the unemployment rolls. Some additional businesses will fail under these pressures. Some may relocate to more business-friendly states.
For unemployed workers, the impacts are also negative: relatively fewer jobs will be available when they do come off unemployment if more businesses fail and relocate. Long-term unemployment leads inevitably to diminished skills. Those “last hired” are vulnerable: “Last hired, first fired.”
This is a toxic economic mix for states continuing to pay the $300 supplement and for unemployed workers receiving it.
While employment has been recovering nationally, it has not in Connecticut. The Nutmeg State is in a full-blown jobs crisis with the latest (May) jobs statistics showing that Connecticut has sustained the worst shrinkage in its employment rolls of the 50 states. The civilian workforce is down almost 10 percent from February 2020, as workers have stopped looking for work or left the state. Of the reduced workforce, 7.7 percent were unemployed, the sixth highest rate in the nation.
As a consequence, employment in May (about 1.62 million) was 16 percent below the pre-pandemic full employment level (the workforce of 1.93 million). The next worst number was 11 percent in Hawaii. Thirteen states have grown their workforces and had lower May unemployment rates.
Governor Lamont should call a special legislative session to deal with the jobs crisis, not just offer happy talk, as he did when May job statistics were released. June’s numbers, no matter how good, will still show Connecticut in last place.
Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.