Reopening the economy only works if people return to work

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Last week, I visited a local shop in Camden, Maine, that caters largely to tourists. On my way out, I asked the owners how they were holding up. They, of course, replied that they are desperately concerned about their business and are just trying to survive — like most business owners across the country right now.

The entrepreneurs also said they were having a difficult time getting their employees to come back to work because they’re receiving close to $1,000 a week for not working. It’s a confusing and concerning problem for these business owners because they took the Paycheck Protection Program funds that were supposed to help them keep employees on the payroll.

This is not a unique story.

Business owners across the country are lamenting that people are not coming back to their jobs, even when offered. For small businesses able to survive the quarantine, more will need to be done to get their workers off welfare and back in the workforce. It’s going to require thoughtful action from state and federal leaders, as well as strict enforcement of existing laws regarding unemployment benefits. Thankfully, some of the nation’s governors are making bold and commonsense moves to address the three-headed monster of a health crisis, budget woes, and businesses on the brink of extinction.