Flexibility needed to salvage 2021 season

June 4, 2021

As it closes in on approving a state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Delaware finds itself awash with cash as a result of the rebounding economy. The state also still has plenty of federal coronavirus stimulus money available, almost as many dollars as help wanted signs hanging in business windows in Delaware’s Cape Region.

However, the state is still distributing an extra $300 per week in federal coronavirus funds on top of customary unemployment benefits. The jobs market has recovered. This makes no sense.

Part of the reason why people are not going back to work is because extra federal dollars make it more profitable to stay home.

State officials say they are still paying the extra dollars because the economic stimulus money has to address coronavirus-related issues and has to be spent in a timely fashion. Paying the extra money for unemployment once fit that bill and put money into a shrinking economy where it was needed. We get that part. But we also understand that people are smart. They will choose the path that makes them the most money.

When the state strategy keeps people out of the workforce who would otherwise be filling the hundreds of jobs available, it works at cross-purposes with the local economy.

The pandemic has taught us the importance of adapting quickly to walk the fine line between protecting the health of the community while also protecting the economy.

The sensible thing to do now is to get an exemption from the feds to stockpile the unemployment stimulus funds until the late fall or early winter when fewer jobs will be available. Halt the extra payments, use available funds for more transportation to get people to the beach jobs, and let people know the extra money will be available again if they lose their jobs after the summer season.

That would provide a disincentive to stay unemployed and an incentive to get people back into the workplace.

Flexibility is needed now to help make the most of the 2021 tourism season.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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