HARRISBURG – PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the current state of Pennsylvania’s workforce as employers experience challenges filling open positions:
“As Pennsylvania begins to re-open, employers are reporting serious workforce shortages which are hindering the state’s economic recovery. Over the past several months, we have increasingly heard from our members that despite Pennsylvania’s high unemployment rate and employers raising wages, a large number 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. While expanding childcare options has been a priority for years, a recent study found that childcare issues are no longer significant factors in the nation’s employment recovery. Rather, policies that are related to unemployment are exacerbating the current workforce challenges, including: continued waiving of the work search requirement and the additional $300 in weekly federal benefit payments, resulting in an estimated 40 percent of claimants making more in benefits than they were in wages. As a result, 24 states have ended their participation in the enhanced federal benefit program.
“Despite claims to the contrary, the impacts of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits are not negligible. Rather than just continuing these policies that have outlived their purpose, we encourage the Wolf administration to follow the lead of other states that are implementing innovative solutions to help encourage employment and connect unemployed Pennsylvanians with hiring employers. House Bill 508, for example, would phase out federal benefit enhancements and create a return-to-work grant for workers who transition back into the workforce.”