This week’s Bad Bill of the Week is HB 737. Titled “Protect and Support the Unemployed” and sponsored by Representatives Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover/Brunswick), Pricey Harrison (D- Guilford) and Edward Hanes (D- Forsyth), HB 737 is not all its lofty title suggests that it is.
Aiming to put people back to work, the bill does two things: provides employers a tax credit for hiring anyone that has been unemployed for a period longer than 12 months and forbids employers from discriminating against persons based on their status as unemployed.
No one will argue that the General Assembly needs to be proactive to fix North Carolina’s economy and create an environment that fosters economic growth and puts people back to work. However, providing tax credits to employers that hire the long-term unemployed is not the answer to North Carolina’s high unemployment rate. While it hypothetically encourages employers to hire those that have been unemployed for longer than 12 months, it unintentionally creates an environment that leaves the more recently unemployed in a vulnerable situation. If employers are financially incentivized to hire those that have been unemployed for more than 12 months, why would they hire another equally, or possibly better-skilled unemployed candidate that has been out of work for only 6 months? They wouldn’t.
More government meddling into the labor market and further distortion of the decisions of employers are not ways to foster genuine economic recovery.
In reality, HB 737 ignores the real problems that plague the economy – that there are more workers than jobs available. The only real way to help people find jobs is to grow the economy- not by bribing employers to hire whoever has been unemployed the longest.
HB 737 also opens employers up to lawsuits if they discriminate against someone based on their status as unemployed. The glaring issue here is that it’s impossible to prove why an employer does or doesn’t choose to hire someone. How could anyone possibly know the reason they were passed over was because they were currently unemployed? What will inevitably happen is employers will be subjected to frivolous lawsuits from rejected applicants.
This brings us to the inevitable unintended consequence: If employers are afraid of being sued, they’re just going to avoid interviewing unemployed candidates altogether. If the General Assembly wants more unemployed North Carolinians to get hired, the last thing they should do is add yet another way for North Carolina job creators to get sued.
North Carolina should get serious about putting people back to work. However, if “help” comes in the form of HB 737, North Carolinians are far better off without it. Full of counterproductive provisions and unintended consequences, HB 737 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.