NOW HIRING – it’s a sign that’s seen across industries as businesses begin to operate at full capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the nation, businesses are unable to find people to fill open positions due largely to a continuation of pandemic-related federal unemployment compensation benefits.
Over the last several months, this problem has grown to be a full-blown crisis that has forced employers across a broad spectrum of industries – including restaurants, construction, manufacturing and supply chain/logistics firms – to reduce hours or even close operations. The U.S. Chamber recently conducted a survey that showed more than half of respondents said they are not in a hurry to return to work – with 16 percent even admitting that the $300 a week they continue to receive in federal UC benefits and other government programs makes it ‘not worth looking for work.’
The crisis has become so dire that states are moving toward rejecting federal aid to encourage their residents to return to work and drive forward economic recovery efforts. While most states that have taken this step have Republican governors, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards very recently became the first Democratic state executive to withdraw from the federal program.
This development shows that the decision to decline continued pandemic-related financial aid isn’t a political decision but one grounded in reality. In a recent statement, PA Chamber President Gene Barr called the decision one based on “simple math,” adding that the “private sector cannot compete against federal benefit enhancements that are in many cases paying individuals more than what they made in wages.”
The PA Chamber is encouraging the Commonwealth to follow the lead of Louisiana and other states and scale back the Commonwealth’s participation in the federal program. Doing so is the only way to ensure that Pennsylvanians can get back to work and participate in the historic economic resurgence that our organization is working to lead. In addition to the other policy solutions we’ve outlined in our “Bringing PA Back” initiative, ending the workforce shortage crisis is critical to this effort.