Unemployment… AKA, Why Does the Governor Hate People?

So there have been several local stories about staffing shortages, particularly for restaurants. This area relies on tourism and in particular, restaurants. And now some people have decided, without any evidence, that unemployment payments are the reason restaurants can’t hire enough staff. To hear that tale, the enhanced unemployment payments are making people choose not to work.

Except, that’s not it. The problem isn’t unemployment benefits. The problem is that business owners have decided that they don’t have to pay workers more than the bare minimum. Let’s do some math, shall we?

Minimum wage for servers in South Carolina is $2.13/hour, plus tips, and that’s what most restaurants pay, aside from some of the upscale ones. According to Zip Recruiter, that works out to about $10/hour for the average pay here.

$10 x 40 hours = $400 weekly, before taxes. Just for fun, let’s take out 15% for taxes, and you get $340 per week. Extrapolate that out, and you get $17,680 yearly, or $1,473 per month. Oh, and you probably still don’t have health insurance, but if you do, that’s another $30-50 taken out weekly. Or more.

Let’s look at the 2020 poverty guidelines. For one person, that’s $12,760 per year. For two people, it’s $17,240 per year. So if that’s a single mom with a kid, congratulations, you’re paying her just a hair above the poverty level. Go fucking pat yourself on the back for that.

The average weekly unemployment payment in South Carolina is $236. Add the $300 weekly unemployment enhancement, and you’re up to $536 per week. Take out 10% for taxes, and you’re netting $482 per week. That’s $1,928 per month. If you want to calculate a full year, that’s $23,136. Still no health insurance, sorry, you’re SOL for that in this state, because South Carolina refused the Medicaid expansion.

If you have a kid, don’t forget the daycare costs. Five years ago, the average yearly cost of daycare here was $6,475. You don’t really need money for rent or a car, right?

So yeah, tell me again, how people are making bank on unemployment. Oh, wait, our governor did! He told us all about it, how people collecting unemployment are so lazy that effective June 30, he’s ending the state’s participation in the federal pandemic unemployment programs. Back to poverty wages, you peasants!

The truth is that it’s not that unemployed workers are lazy and just content to make money on unemployment. The truth is that employers refuse to pay workers a decent wage. I’m not even talking about the oft-quoted $15/hour. Employers are barely paying enough to keep a person above the poverty level, but they’re bitching that they can’t find workers? Gee, can’t imagine why.

No need to ask if I’m angry. I’m furious. People deserve better. Vote this pretend southern gentleman out. He’s up for re-election next year. It wasn’t enough that he refused to lead during a pandemic, it wasn’t enough that he demonized teachers, it wasn’t enough that he refuses to expand health insurance programs to people who desperately need them. He won’t be content until he’s destroyed everyone he deems beneath him.

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