HARRISBURG – PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the impact the federal unemployment compensation benefit is having on a national workforce shortage as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards becomes the first Democratic state executive to withdraw from the federal program:
“The current workforce shortage isn’t a problem in the business community – it’s a full-blown crisis. We are continually hearing from our members that despite Pennsylvania’s high unemployment rate and employers significantly raising wages, they still are having difficulty filling open positions. This 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. A recent U.S. Chamber survey found a significant number of respondents – more than half – are not in a hurry to return to work and 16 percent say the money they are receiving from unemployment benefits and other government programs makes it ‘not worth looking for work.’
“As evidenced by Louisiana’s recent decision to withdraw from the federal program, this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s simple math. The private sector cannot compete against federal benefit enhancements that are in many cases paying individuals more than what they made in wages.
“We encourage Pennsylvania to follow the lead of the majority of other states and scale back the Commonwealth’s participation in the federal program. In order to fully return to a sense of normalcy and move past the pandemic, businesses must be able to fully re-open. The business community has invested considerable resources in ensuring their operations are safe for customers and employees alike. It’s time to get people back to work.”