19 May 2021 | Economic Security

RELEASE: Unemployment benefits not the issue for Kansas families

May 19, 2021

TOPEKA, Kansas – Unemployed Kansans face daunting obstacles, but we don’t believe enhanced unemployment benefits are among them. Business and local government leaders should focus on the actual barriers that keep people out of the job market.

For example, many are worried about risks to their health and safety during a once-in-a-century pandemic. With COVID-19 still circulating widely, hesitation to return to jobs requiring contact with potentially unvaccinated people is understandable. Families with children must grapple with the fact that those under the age of 12 can’t yet be vaccinated.

The availability and affordability of early learning programs is likewise a serious hurdle. Nationally, one in six jobs in the child care sector were lost during the pandemic. And despite what the letter to Gov. Kelly stated, temporary assistance isn’t the answer. We need long-term investment in quality programs that support working families.

Finally, it’s disgraceful that Kansas still has a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That does not meet the basic cost of living, and Kansans shouldn’t have to choose between unemployment or poverty. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 would positively affect more than 450,000 Kansas workers and bring more applicants into the job market.