MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the lockdowns and other limits imposed during the pandemic, some employers say they are finding it hard to attract people to fill openings as their activities ramp back up. This despite the fact that millions of jobs disappeared over the last year. And that's given rise to a debate. Some, mainly on the conservative side at this point, say those enhanced federal unemployment benefits make it more attractive for people to stay home than to get back out to work. That's the argument cited by a number of Republican governors who are opting out of that federal unemployment program. And in a few minutes, we're going to hear from a conservative-leaning economist on that argument. But first, we're joined by Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long. She has been covering the economic recovery and talking to unemployed workers to hear what they have to say. Heather Long, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
HEATHER LONG: Thank you. Good to be here.
MARTIN: So let's just, first of all, talk about those - the numbers that just came out last week. The number of job openings in the U.S. rose to an all-time high of 8.1 million in March. That's according to the Labor Department. And as we mentioned, many are blaming the federal unemployment insurance, which adds an extra $300 to state unemployment aid for discouraging people from taking these jobs. Is there any truth to that?
LONG: I talk to unemployed people nearly every day, and I would say it like this. If you ask me, have I talked to at least one person who is not going back to work because they are making more money on unemployment - so they get an extra 300 from the federal government, and the average payment for most states is around $300, so a total of about 600 a week right now. And that works out to about $15 an hour job. So yes, I have spoken to some people who are not going back and are discouraged by that extra money, but that is a very small number of people. The vast majority - I'm talking 9 out of 10 - of people that I speak to are - say one of three things. No. 1, they're still a little bit hesitant with the health situation. People are still getting vaccinated, waiting to clear that two weeks after their second shot. No. 2 that I hear a ton, particularly from women, is child care issues. A number of schools obviously have reopened, but oftentimes they're only open in person two or three days a week. And it's still really a challenge to juggle these schedules of the children with trying to get back to work. You saw in April that all the jobs added actually went to men, which is another red flag that we've still got some issues getting women and the child care issues sorted out. And the third thing that was the headline of my story that I wrote about is I hear - I think it's too simplistic to sit here and say, oh, people are getting paid too much not to work. What they're really going on here is - and this is for high-income workers and low-income workers who I speak to - the past year has been traumatic. It has been harrowing. It has been really tough. And it's caused people to reassess their life, to reassess what they want to do career-wise, to reassess whether they want to work in an office or at home or outdoors and to reassess their work-life balance.
Saturday, I had to stop at Subway, I had three of the grandkids and they were all hungry. So we go in and order and there's a sign up. It says please forgive any wait times, that they are short handed and it's because people do not want to work. Then they say to apply if you are looking for a job. People don't want to work? I'm so sick of right wing talking points being echoed at places I frequent.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Monday, May 17, 2021. Protests erupt around the world.
Over the weekend, protests and demonstrations took place around the world to show support for the Palestinians. For example, Scotland:
And many other places around the world including Baghdad:
Why so many protests? Why such massiver turnout at the various protests?
Because this is an issue that can no longer be ignored. By the time former US President Jimmy Carter was referring to Israel as an apartheid state, people should have been paying attention in the US. By the time the US was carrying out two forever wars -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- people should have been paying attention. Many have worked for decades to raise attention on the plight of the Palestinians. Their work is the bedrock for what's going on right now and the ongoing wars helped fuel awareness over the last years. The movement the US government could not see coming was always going to rise. It' shame that so much money is wasted on 'intelligence' -- so much US taxpayer money -- when there is none in the government.
Another thing to note about the above? Moqtada al-Sdr had nothing to do with London, Sydney, etc. And no one is rushing, in those cities, to credit one person.
But with the Baghdad protest?
It's all Moqtada's effort, we are told. What a lie.
First off, it was a popular protest around the world. Second, Moqtada wasn't the only voice calling for protests as MEHR NEWS AGENCY notes:
In an exclusive interview with Mehr News Agency (MNA) Nasr al-Shammari, the deputy secretary-general and the spokesman of Iraq's Al-Nujaba Islamic Resistance Movement said that the Islamic Resistance of Iraq will spare no effort in defending their brothers in the Palestinian resistance and the dear Palestinian people based on their religious and moral duties.
Shammari added that the Iraqi resistance is ready to support the Palestinian resistance in the form of weapons supplies and the transfer of experience or in the form of direct participation in the fight against the usurping regime of Israel.
The missile power of the Palestinian resistance pushed ahead of the struggle against the Zionist regime into a new stage, according to the Nujaba deputy secretary-general, adding that now a new balance of power has been formed.
He added that the resistance now has the upper hand in the struggle and has achieved new deterrence, rendering the Zionist regime to think twice before taking action.
He also touched upon the unity among all resistance forces across the region based on their shared Islamic beliefs, explaining that all the resistance groups in different parts of the region have formed a united front against the Israeli regime and in support of the Palestinian forces.
Crediting the protests to Moaqtada? That's garbage journalism. That's taking the work of thousands and reducing it to one person. It's celebrity feature writing, not news. It obscures reality and leaves readers and viewers with the wrong perceptions.
The turnout in Baghdad was going to be intense (and was throughout Iraq). Al that was needed was for a date and time to be announced.
Sunday brought more COVID deaths including Nadia al-Iraqiya.
Moving on to other issues, e-mails are asking about Ava and my latest piece? We wrote it. It took five hours to write. We finished it at 9:00 am Sunday morning. THIRD's not finished the rest of the stuff, but we wrote our piece -- we also did an interview with Ty for this edition. (About KINDLE.) I have no idea what the status is on the rest. If it's not up by Monday night, I'm posting what is done Tuesday morning.
The following sites updated: