My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Below is a portion. Go out and get a copy!
The numbers illustrate the problem. An economy is enjoying full employment when anyone who wants a job can have one. Most economists agree that an unemployment rate below 4% or 5% indicates than an economy is in a state of full employment. In prepandemic April of 2019, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 3.2%. In April of 2021, the unemployment rate is 3.8%. Wisconsin’s economy has returned to full employment.
Yet in April of 2019, there were about 21,000 people receiving unemployment benefits. In April of 2021, there are about 92,000 people receiving unemployment benefits. In an economic state of full employment, Wisconsin has about 70,000 people receiving unemployment payments who would not have been just two years ago. They are being paid to not work.
As a note, my editor kicked this section back because it is a bit confusing. Remember that the number of unemployed people is not the same as the number of unemployed people who are receiving unemployment benefits. There are unemployed people who do not receive benefits. The unemployment people who are receiving unemployment benefits are a subset of the larger unemployed population.