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In the first and only gubernatorial debate for the Wisconsin 2022 election, Republican candidate Tim Michels said one of the things he would do to address worker shortages in the state is “get people off their couches.”

“We created an entire class of lazy people during COVID,” Michels said. 

Michels claimed pandemic-related aid such as stimulus checks, along with boosted unemployment payments, led people to not work. However, he recognized that assistance — initially $600 a week and later $300 a week — ended in September 2021. The last federal government stimulus check was sent out in March 2021. 

Wisconsin unemployment rates peaked in March 2020 when COVID-19 hit. In March 2021, unemployment in the state sat at 3.8%. In 2022, the unemployment rate has hovered around 3% for the past several months — similar to pre-pandemic unemployment rates.


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Channel 3000 / News 3 Now: WATCH: Full debate between Gov. Tony Evers, Tim Michels Advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payments – Stimulus Checks

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Erin Gretzinger / Wisconsin WatchReporting Intern

Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.