What’s Really Going on in the Labor Market — feat. Heidi Shierholz

Off-Kilter Podcast
2 min readMay 14, 2021

With a wave of hysteria around so-called labor shortages dominating the headlines — and Republican governors moving to cut off access to pandemic jobless benefits in their states — Rebecca sat down with the Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz for a reality check on what’s going on in the labor market right now. Subscribe to Off-Kilter on iTunes.

The April jobs data released by the Department of Labor last week spurred an avalanche of hysteria and conservative hand-wringing about supposedly widespread labor shortages, with many on the right pointing to pandemic jobless benefits as the bogeyman.

In a particularly troubling move, on Wednesday of this week, 12 Republican governors announced they’d be ending access to pandemic unemployment benefits in their states, despite the American Rescue Plan Act’s extension of expanded jobless benefits until September 2021. Analysis by The Century Foundation finds that some 895,000 workers in these 12 states will be cut off from pandemic benefits as soon as June 19, with workers of color being hit the hardest — costing their states’ economies nearly $5 billion.

To help unpack the state of the labor market as the COVID-19 economic recovery continues — and the role of pandemic unemployment insurance in the recovery — Rebecca sat down with Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the Economic Policy Institute, former chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Obama, and a friend of the show, for a reality check on the jobs data and what they really tell us about the kind of policies we need at this point in the ongoing recovery.

For more on this:

  • Read Heidi’s blog post (with Josh Bivens) for more myth-busting on the recent jobs data and what they tell us
  • And for the tl;dr, check out Heidi’s great tweet thread



Off-Kilter Podcast

Off-Kilter is the podcast about poverty and inequality—and everything they intersect with. **Show archive 2017-May ‘21** Current episodes: tcf.org/off-kilter.