Employers Struggle To Compete For Workers Against Government Benefits

All Across The Country, Employers Say They Cannot Recruit Workers, Despite Offering Higher Salaries And Even Bonuses, Because Some People Are ‘Making More Money On Unemployment,’ But Republican Governors Are Leading The Way In Ending Enhanced Government Benefits To Get People Back To Work And The Economy Back On Track


As The Economy Reopens, Employers Are Struggling To Recruit Workers As They Compete With ‘Enhanced Unemployment Benefits From The Government’

“There’s a wild card in the push to return to pre-pandemic life: Many workers don’t want to go back to the jobs they once had. Layoffs and lockdowns, combined with enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, gave many Americans the time and the financial cushion to rethink their careers. Their former employers are hiring again — and some, like Uber and McDonald’s, are offering higher pay — but workers remain hesitant. In March, U.S. job openings rose 8% to a record 8.1 million, but overall hiring rose less than 4%, according to government data.” (“Changed By Pandemic, Many Workers Won’t Return To Old Jobs,” ABC News, 5/18/2021)

“There are 8.1 million jobs available across the U.S. — a 20-year high. To return to the pre-pandemic economy, 800,000 people need to return to the workforce every month.” (“Restaurants Struggle To Hire Amid 20-Year High For Job Openings,” CBS News, 5/17/2021)

In Particular The Hospitality Industry Can’t Hire Enough Workers To Fully Reopen

“Across the U.S., restaurants desperately want to reopen to full capacity, and mayors and governors are urging them to do so. While some diners are still wary, owners say a bigger problem is finding enough bodies to cook, serve, and wash dishes.” (“Waiters Reject Signing Bonuses, Hobbling an $860 Billion Industry,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/12/2021)

  • “To lure new workers and keep existing ones from bolting, some fast-food and casual-dining chains are offering one-time bonuses and increasing pay. Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. said it spent $17 million on a one-off retention payment of as much as $300. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will raise average hourly wages for kitchen workers from $13 to $15 by the end of June, as it looks to add 20,000 employees to its payroll. Even before the planned hike, the chain’s pay was up about 4% from the same time last year.” (“Waiters Reject Signing Bonuses, Hobbling an $860 Billion Industry,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/12/2021)

“Travelers this summer could notice something they may not have seen before: The person who checked them in is the same person who helps clean their room. Hotels say they are struggling to hire enough housekeepers, kitchen staff and other hourly workers—including the ones they laid off early in the Covid-19 pandemic—ahead of an anticipated upswing in leisure travel. ‘There have been weekends where I’ve had to let rooms go vacant because we didn’t have enough people to clean them,’ said Sloan Dean, chief executive of management company Remington Hotels. The company has about 500 open positions across its 78 properties, which bear major brands including Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Hyatt Hotels Corp. and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, Mr. Dean said.” (“Staffing Shortages Pose a Threat to Hotels’ Budding Recovery,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/18/2021)

  • “The pandemic has shifted where and how people work, and as the economy moves toward broader reopenings, hotels and the rest of the service industry are struggling to staff up. That is despite offering perks like higher wages, sign-on and retention bonuses and more flexible work schedules, hotel managers and owners say. Failing to hire enough workers risks hotels having to limit guest stays amid rising demand that has pushed national occupancy levels back above 50% in the past couple of months after the hotel industry suffered its hardest year ever in 2020.” (“Staffing Shortages Pose a Threat to Hotels’ Budding Recovery,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/18/2021)

‘Finding Qualified Employees Remains The Biggest Challenge For Small Businesses And Is Slowing Economic Growth’

“A new NFIB’s jobs report for April shows a record 44% of all small business owners report having job openings they could not fill, 22 points higher than the 48-year historical average, and two points higher than the 42% figure from March. April is the third consecutive month with a record-high reading of unfilled job openings among small businesses.” (NFIB Press Release, 5/06/2021)

  • NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg: “Small business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers. Finding qualified employees remains the biggest challenge for small businesses and is slowing economic growth.” (NFIB, Press Release, 5/11/2021)


In State After State, Small Business Owners Say, ‘We Can’t Get Anybody,’ And Lament, ‘We Can’t Compete With The Government Right Now,’ Pointing To ‘Increased Unemployment Benefits And Stimulus Payments’

CALIFORNIA: “As the start of the traditional summer tourist season nears with Memorial Day weekend, the local hospitality sector has high hopes for the second half of the year. As the coronavirus pandemic fades and people are making travel plans, hoteliers and restaurant owners are eager to look forward and put last year’s struggles and financial losses behind them…. Still, challenges remain for hospitality operators, namely hiring enough workers to fully staff restaurants and hotels and attracting business travelers…. Although more visitors are coming and booking future trips, hospitality businesses are still gradually reopening and in many cases struggling to find workers. [Steve] Jung said his Hilton in Rohnert Park has brought back most full-time employees, but recruiting remains a challenge. Even one of the county’s most popular tourist stops, Russian River Brewing Co., is not back to full operations. It only recently opened its Windsor beer garden for limited hours on Monday and Tuesday nights. Co-owner Natalie Cilurzo said she is having a hard time hiring since many people can earn more money on enhanced unemployment benefits than working. ‘We are having a harder time finding employees than when unemployment (locally) was at 2.5%. It’s bad,’ she said, noting pay for her kitchen staff can range from $17 to $22 an hour. Before the pandemic, Russian River had 204 employees at its Windsor and Santa Rosa locations and it now has 130 workers. Cilurzo is trying to hire another 25 or so people, such as cooks, an accountant and brewer, but the payroll won’t return to the pre-pandemic level.” (“Sonoma County Tourism Took $1 Billion Hit Last Year; Summer Prospects Bright,” The [Sonoma County] Press Democrat, 5/14/2021)

  • “[Smokey Canyon BBQ] owner Pam Nusser [of Riverside, CA] joined ‘America Reports’ to respond to [Gov. Gavin] Newsom’s [D-CA] legislation, arguing small businesses are competing with the government for workers. ‘We have had ads for over two months for cooks and servers, and either we don’t get any applicants or when we get them, they don’t show up,’ Nusser said. ‘People are demanding a certain amount of money per hour that is just totally ridiculous, or they are wanting cash. We can’t compete with the government right now.’ Nusser emphasized that additional stimulus checks won’t help small businesses. ‘We don’t want handouts. We want to work. We don’t want to be applying, sitting there on our computers, applying for money. We don’t need money. We need workers,’ Nusser said. There are more than 8 million available jobs in the U.S., and a growing labor shortage as businesses have reported difficulty in onboarding new workers. ‘We don’t have enough employees to go to the tables and wait,’ Nusser said. ‘It’s just gotten insane because everybody is getting these checks. We want to work.’” (Fox News, 5/15/2021)
  • “Customers are starting to come back to Du-pars Restaurant and Bakery, but owner Frances Tario felt blindsided when her employees failed to return. She struggled to stay open during the pandemic, laying off 100 employees and closing one of her two Los Angeles locations. Now, because of being understaffed, employees are pulling double duty. ’It’s been difficult. And, you know, I’m grateful to them,’ Tario said.” (“Restaurants Struggle To Hire Amid 20-Year High For Job Openings,” CBS News, 5/17/2021)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: “As the economy looks to rebound from the last year-plus of shutdowns and restrictions put forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations now have set out to try to fill positions…. But as Steve Pelkey, owner of Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, Inc. in Jaffrey, attempts to fill his vacancies for what is his busiest time of year, he isn’t seeing a rush from those unemployed to reenter the workforce. ‘This is the worst job market I’ve seen in my 35 years of owning a business,’ Pelkey said. ‘We used to have kids lined up from high school or kids from college coming back for the summer. Last year and this year, it’s just nothing.’ In an effort to hopefully line up some potential employees for summer jobs, Pelkey signed on to participate in the virtual Monadnock Region Job Fair … For Pelkey, it is the first job fair he has ever taken part in and it was done so out of the greatest necessity. ‘We just don’t know what else to do. We can’t get anybody,’ he said. ‘We need to have seven or eight seasonal people just at our main warehouse facility to do our normal business in the summer. We can’t even get someone to show up and work at a register or stock shelves,’ adding that he needs anywhere from 12 to 15 for his four retail locations. Numbers for fireworks show workers are also down, Pelkey said. ‘The business is there. We just need to be able to have the staff,’ he said. ‘I just don’t know what the answer is.’ … Being unable to find adequate staffing over the last year has forced Pelkey and many other employees to work long hours, sometimes seven days a week. ‘Those of us that are small business owners, we’ve been in survival mode since March 2020,’ Pelkey said. ‘And at some point you’re going to wear everybody out.’ He said he has contacted Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, ‘but they just don’t understand the magnitude of the problem.’ Pelkey said it’s difficult to have people walk in the door looking for work let alone get to the hiring stage. He has tried everything – from social media to job site platforms. And when people do apply, many don’t respond to interview requests. Pelkey said the extra benefits offered through unemployment have made it hard for employers looking to fill openings. ‘The reality is a lot of people can make $17.75 an hour to do nothing,’ Pelkey said. ‘They just have enabled this environment with what I call the COVID crutch.’ … ‘I’ve never had to find people,’ Pelkey said. ‘We’ve always paid reasonably well,’ adding someone with no experience can expect to start at $13.50 -$14 an hour, well above New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage.” (“Employers Turning To Job Fair To Fill Openings,” Monadnock [NH] Ledger-Transcript, 5/17/2021)

  • “Ana Gonzalez, director of human resources for Monadnock Family Services, said she has participated in a number of job fairs this spring because ‘we are in need’ … ‘We are not considered a shortage area of mental health workers, but we can’t seem to find mental health workers,’ Gonzalez said. She said at some of the job fairs she has attended, there has not been one single person interested in talking about MFS’s open positions. ‘And I’m not the only employer that’s like that,’ Gonzalez said.” (“Employers Turning To Job Fair To Fill Openings,” Monadnock [NH] Ledger-Transcript, 5/17/2021)

WISCONSIN: “Chef Dan Jacobs’s restaurants have long been fixtures on best-of-Milwaukee lists. One of his latest, called EsterEv, offers an eclectic mix of gourmet and comfort food … But while diners may be eager to return, Jacobs can’t find enough workers to get his place back up and running. He’s offering $40,000-a-year salaries and $20 an hour for part-timers. He’s begging on Craigslist. He’s even scouting people who’ve served time in prison. No luck. ‘It’s a coin flip,’ Jacobs says of the chances that EsterEv and his other two restaurants will survive. ‘I have to be realistic and realize there is a distinct chance this will not work.’… In Milwaukee, Jacobs says candidates sometimes apply because they have to show they’re actively seeking work to continue collecting unemployment but then don’t return his phone calls.” (“Waiters Reject Signing Bonuses, Hobbling an $860 Billion Industry,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/12/2021)

INDIANA: “A tent and awning company that’s been around for nearly 150 years in Indianapolis is going out of business. American Tent and Awning owner Tom Simpson says the coronavirus pandemic is mostly to blame, not because of a lack of business, but because he doesn’t have enough workers in order to meet demand. He told WISH-TV he’s had to turn customers away because of his lack of manpower. He said the company was doing great before the pandemic hit. ‘The COVID just wiped everything out,’ Simpson said. ‘We were looking at probably the best year we’d seen since 2017, and it all disappeared in the course of two weeks.’ Simpson had to furlough most of his workers. He was able to get some business during the height of the shutdowns with businesses having to facilitate outdoor dining areas. With things opening back up, business picked up with it. But, Simpson said he had a hard time bringing workers back, let alone his previous staff. ‘A lot of them have had to go on to other things,’ he said. ‘The summertime help, they’re making more money on unemployment. They don’t want to come back to work. I talked with my family competitors and they’re having the same problem.’ With a lack of workers, he’s had to turn business away. So much so that he says he and his son decided to shut it down. Yellow tags line everything inside his business ready to be sold at auction.” (“A Nearly 150-Year-Old Tent Company Closes Due To Lack Of Workers,” WIBC Indianapolis, 5/18/2021)

PENNSYLVANIA: “The coronavirus pandemic could claim another piece of Philadelphia history. One of the city’s only kosher bakeries may have to close. Eyewitness News spoke to the baker behind the treats about the challenges they’re facing and what needs to happen for the shop to stay open. ‘I’m a Philadelphian. I was born and raised here,’ Homemade Goodies By Roz owner Roz Bratt said. ‘I love my city. I’m just really sad of what this pandemic has done.’ … Based at 5th and South Streets in Queen Village, Homemade Goodies By Roz has been around for the past 24 years. It’s one of only three kosher bakeries in Philadelphia, and the only kosher bakery in Center City. But Bratt says this may be her last. She says she can’t find workers. ‘I don’t have help,’ she said. ‘I had help. They went on to other jobs. It’s very sad.’ With the exception of one part-time employee, the 73-year-old is doing all the baking herself. She’s cut her hours and is now only open for retail on Fridays, so her customers can get baked goods ahead of the Sabbath. She says all she can do now is pray, hang a help-wanted sign in the front window and hope someone answers before she’s closed for good. ‘It upsets me and being a small business owner, I’m doing the best that I can,’ she said, ‘and hopefully, my customers will understand.’” (“‘Mom-And-Pop Bakeries Are Dying’: Homemade Goodies By Roz May Have To Close Due To Worker Shortage,” CBS 3 Philly, 5/16/2021)

ARKANSAS: “Some customers just want their suits dry cleaned. Others want to treat themselves with pressed bedsheets. The problem for one Little Rock dry cleaner is that a short staff means it struggles to meet demand. ‘People are getting mad because employees only work Monday, Wednesday, Friday,’ said Patty Enderlin, manager at Oak Forest Cleaners. ‘We had to cut back, but didn’t want to. ... Now we have all these people bringing in clothes.’ Enderlin said her business fell 80% when the pandemic hit and has been slowly building back. The dry cleaner once employed 30 people, but that number is down to 20 despite help wanted ads on Craigslist and by word-of-mouth. ‘Nobody files for any jobs,’ she said. ‘No one. It’s crazy.’ ... ‘We’ve been here 70 years and never seen anything like this,’ Enderlin said about the drop in applications. ‘It means at the end of the day we have to do a lot more work, because we’re doing other people’s jobs.’” (“Businesses Lament Lack Of Staffers,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 5/16/2021)

  • “Cody Matthews, owner and operator of more than 30 McDonald’s franchises in Northwest Arkansas, recently added a $300 sign-on bonus in an incentive package to attract new employees. Around the middle of April he said there was a drastic change in the flow of applications. ‘It was crazy, like they just stopped,’ Matthews said. Since adding the incentives, dozens of applicants have been hired, he said, and just in time. McDonald’s will begin reopening to diners in June.” (“Businesses Lament Lack Of Staffers,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 5/16/2021)
  • “The main culprit, critics say, is the extension of a $300 federal unemployment benefit. Combined with the maximum state benefit, weekly unemployment insurance payments can be as much as $751 per week, about $19 an hour, according to Arkansas’ Division of Workforce Services. The state’s minimum wage is $11 per hour. [In April], restaurant owners and managers said it was common for people to walk in, ask for applications and never call back. Staffing levels became so low that some restaurants adjusted hours to provide breaks for the workers that they did have.” (“Businesses Lament Lack Of Staffers,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 5/16/2021)

MICHIGAN: “Many northern Michigan businesses in are struggling to find enough workers to help keep their doors open. But there are also thousands of Michiganders on unemployment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 23,000 are unemployed. However, the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce is trying to help businesses fill those positions. It was a busy day for Sue Palmisano. She’s the executive director of the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce. And the reason why all these people are here at Shorts Brewing Company. ‘We have 10 local businesses here that are hiring for multiple positions and from kids who are high school all the way up to older people,’ Palmisano said. As Bellaire businesses prepare for the busy summer season, many are in need of anywhere from 10 to 50 more employees, including the brewery. ‘It was pretty quiet with applications coming in for a long time, and we were getting a little bit nervous because it’s always a struggle, but it was feeling a little bit more so this year,’ Shorts General Manager Erin Kuethe said. Many of the employers said they’ve been searching for new workers for months but haven’t had much luck. ‘Usually, I start the process in January with advertising for summer positions, and a lot of them are filled by March. That wasn’t the case this year,’ Kuethe said.” (“Businesses Hope To Recruit Workers At Bellaire Job Fair,” WPBN/WGTU-TV Traverse City, MI, 5/16/2021)

  • “‘The struggle is people got their stimulus checks, and they don’t want to go back to work,’ Palmisano said. And many small business owners said they can’t compete with the current unemployment benefits. With the federal government giving an additional $300 on top of what the state gives. So, Shorts Brewing Company is raising wages to try to attract workers. ‘We moved our starting wage in the kitchen, up to $13 an hour, and then we added a summer bonus pay,’ Kuethe said. Despite the boost in pay, Shorts Brewing Company said it still has multiple positions to fill. ‘I made it really clear to my staff that will make the adjustments we need based on the staff we get, I want to be open as full as we can, seven days a week, but if I don’t want anyone to be more stressed because of that,’ Kuethe said.” (“Businesses Hope To Recruit Workers At Bellaire Job Fair,” WPBN/WGTU-TV Traverse City, MI, 5/16/2021)

OHIO: “Unable to find enough workers to staff a second shift, Lima Avenue Rootbeer Stand is open only from late morning to midafternoon, manager Jennifer Ramm said this week. Tim Hortons, on Interstate Court, planned to have four people working, plus a baker one recent day. But only two employees plus a baker made it to work that day, said assistant manager Krysta Wright. ‘We had somebody today just not show up,’ she said. In some cases, people get more money drawing unemployment compensation — the state benefit plus a federal top off because of the pandemic — than they would earn working. Some employers blame that for the shortage of people willing to work. ‘They’re all just living on it,’ Ramm said. ‘A lot of these businesses can’t pay their employees $700 per week.’ Employers, especially those in restaurants and retail, are having difficulty getting fully staffed. But even manufacturers are challenged to get fully staffed. ‘Probably the same as every employer in town, we’re looking for people,’ said Ken Lee, senior vice president of operations for Hitachi Astemo, formerly Nissin Brake. ‘Want to get people back to work after all of the COVID slowdowns and shortages.’ In some cases, people are staying away from work because of unemployment compensation, employment experts said. The federal government for over a year has added an unemployment benefit to top off what states provided in the pandemic.” (“Help Wanted: Here, There, Everywhere,” The [Findlay, OH] Courier, 5/01/2021)

  • “Debonne Vineyard and Winery has worked its way through the pandemic and some nasty cold, snowy weather this spring, and now this east side winery will try and navigate what is shaping up as a shortage of workers. Tony Debevc spent a recent busy day watching over the bottling of another vintage while worrying about the possibility of having to shut the winery down for stretches. ‘We already cut back an hour in the evenings we’re not open as long as we used to be,’ Debevc said. … He believes some people are reluctant to come back to work because they have enjoyed being home during the pandemic and they are able to do that, he believes, due to increased unemployment benefits and stimulus payments.” (“Debonne Vineyards Hopes Worker Shortage Does Not Slow Down Tourism In Region,” WOIO, 5/06/2021)
  • “A survey of Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce members found that 78% said they can’t find the workers they need now for open job, Chris Kershner, CEO and president of the chamber, told the Dayton Daily News. ‘This is a major problem. With the added COVID-19 unemployment benefits, you basically have private industry competing against the federal government for workers,’ Kershner said. ‘We need to fully reopen the economy and these added benefits are a significant barrier to get people back to work.’” (“Job Growth Slows Sharply In Sign Of Hiring Struggles,” Dayton Daily News, 5/08/2021)

SOUTH CAROLINA: “In early April, local restaurateur Rehan Mir posted a photo of a sign he made on the Facebook page of his restaurant, Taco La Barra, on Woodruff Road. ‘We are short-staffed,’ the sign read. ‘Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.’ In his 46 years as a restaurant owner, Mir said he has never experienced such a tough time finding workers. It’s forced owners like him to pick up the slack, taking orders, operating the phone system, wiping down tables, jumping from job to job all day long. ‘I’m 63 years old and I got 12,000 steps yesterday working from noon to midnight,’ Mir said. ‘Everyone is running ragged. It’s always been a tough industry but this is the first time I’ve seen anything this bad.’ Mir is not alone. Every morning after dropping her kids off at school, Julia Scholz — who owns Stella’s Southern Brasserie with her husband, John — gets online and searches for employees. Even when she does get applications, she knows not to get her hopes up. ‘People are walking into restaurants now and seeing empty tables and they’ll ask, ‘Hey, why can’t I get seated?’ They don’t realize we might not have servers to serve you or cooks to cook your food,’ Scholz said. For every 10 interviews she schedules, she said she’s lucky if one person shows up. On the rare occasion that she does bring on a new staff member, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually follow through. More than once, a new hire hasn’t shown up for their first day. ‘It’s incredibly discouraging and time-wasting,’ she said. Both Scholz and Mir believe part of the problem is they’re competing with pandemic-era unemployment benefits. Right now, South Carolinians are eligible for $626 each week in combined state and federal benefits as long as they offer proof they have been applying to at least two jobs per week. Mir said the system is being exploited. ‘These [people] just don’t want to work,’ he said. ‘I get at least five applicants a week and when I call them, they never pick up. No one is actually checking if these people have been offered jobs and turned them down so they can keep getting their checks from the government.’” (“‘No One Wants To Work Anymore’: Hospitality Worker Shortage Threatens Area Restaurants,” Greenville [SC] Journal, 5/13/2021)

  • “Stella’s recently announced it is no longer opening on Tuesdays, a decision Scholz said was made to give its skeleton crew a break. ‘The staff I do have in my kitchen is getting so burned out from 14-hour days and it’s not fair to keep them working these crazy hours,’ she said. ‘None of us wanted to close on Tuesdays, but I felt we were going to lose the good employees we do have because they’re so stressed out and exhausted.’ Other owners like Nick Thomas, who runs Automatic Taco in The Commons, have begun training staff to perform multiple roles at once. ‘All the cooks now have to know how to use the POS (point-of-sale) system, we’ve brought some front-of-the-house people in the back to cook, and we replaced all our food runners with pagers that buzz so the customers just come up and get more involved in the process,’ Thomas said. But even these adjustments can’t fully account for what Thomas calls ‘an insanely bad job market.’ ‘We’ve cast such a wide net and you still wind up with nothing,’ he said.” (“‘No One Wants To Work Anymore’: Hospitality Worker Shortage Threatens Area Restaurants,” Greenville [SC] Journal, 5/13/2021)

MISSISSIPPI: “Service industry workers for the state’s casinos are in high demand. If there was ever a time for some of the state’s top revenue earners to put on a show to lure in potential hires, it’s now. With COVID-19 vaccinations widely available and the busy summer season quickly approaching, businesses across tourism-focused coastal Mississippi have ‘Help Wanted’ signs in their windows. Despite the number of open positions, some workers have shown they’re not eager to return to hospitality and service jobs…. It’s the lower paying jobs from restaurant bussers to housekeepers that Mississippi’s largest casinos and resorts are vying to fill. Managers and owners are figuring out how to respond to staffing challenges. Many have praised Gov. Tate Reeves’ decision to stop the extra $300 per week in unemployment aid next month, hoping the move will bring workers back…. [Scott] King [assistant general manager and vice president of resort operations at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi] said the staffing shortages started back when the casinos first reopened, but they’ve continued to get worse as business gets better. In the spring his team would have up to 10 interviews scheduled for a day, but sometimes only two people would show up…. Larry Gregory, the president of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, said the jobs casinos need filled are across the board from food and beverage services to gaming tables. He applauded the governor’s move to end the additional money in federal unemployment, and he thinks the move will push workers back into open jobs. Unemployment in Mississippi pays up to $235 per week without the additional money per week from the federal program. With minimum wage at $7.25, workers collecting unemployment could make more collecting the combined benefits than in entry-level jobs available in the service industry.” (“Mississippi Casinos Are Setting Revenue Records, But They’re Struggling To Find Workers,” Mississippi Today, 5/18/2021)

FLORIDA: “To meet demand, David Mariotti, general manager of Remington-managed One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach, Fla., said he spends about half of his 50-plus-hour workweek on housekeeping tasks when it gets busy. He drives the laundry truck, cleans guest rooms, stocks linen closets and performs other duties he did for training purposes before the pandemic.” (“Staffing Shortages Pose a Threat to Hotels’ Budding Recovery,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/18/2021)

WASHINGTON: “Nate Mullins quit his job as a bartender last November after clashing with managers over mask rules and worrying that he would spread the coronavirus to his immune-compromised sister. Mullins’ unemployment checks don’t match what he was making at his Oak Harbor, Washington bar, but they’re enough to get by while he looks for jobs that would provide health care and retirement benefits. ‘This opportunity to take a step back and really think about what you’re doing really changed my mind,’ said Mullins, 36. ‘(It) made me think long-term for the first time.’ Workers like Mullins are one reason U.S. hiring slowed in April. Employers and business groups argue that the $300-per-week federal unemployment supplement gives recipients less incentive to look for work.” (“Changed By Pandemic, Many Workers Won’t Return To Old Jobs,” ABC News, 5/18/2021)


Fortunately, Republican Governors Are Leading The Way In Ending These Extra Government Payments To Encourage People To Get Back To Work

“A growing number of GOP-led states are planning to end supplemental unemployment benefits designed to help out-of-work Americans weather the coronavirus pandemic, a move they say will help businesses struggling to hire employees. At least 21 states decided over the past week to prematurely cut off the sweetened aid, which provided an extra $300 a week on top of regular state unemployment benefits. The supplemental benefit is not slated to expire until Sept. 6, 2021.” (“These 21 States Are Ending $300 Unemployment Benefits This Summer,” Fox Business, 5/17/2021)

“New Hampshire is ending its participation in the federal pandemic unemployment program that gave unemployed workers an extra $300 each week and introducing a bonus for people who return to work. Gov. Chris Sununu said the additional federal benefit will end June 19. There’s a 30-day notice requirement, and Sununu said he contacted the Department of Labor on Tuesday morning to say that New Hampshire would leave the program. … The governor announced a new $10 million program that will provide a bonus to currently unemployed people who return to work for at least eight consecutive weeks. Part-time employees will be eligible for a $500 bonus, and full-time employees can apply for a $1,000 bonus. The program begins immediately, with the first workers able to apply for the bonus in eight weeks. It will only be available to those who make $25 an hour or less.” (“NH To End Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefit, Offers Bonus To Those Who Return To Work,” WMUR, 5/18/2021)


Senate Republicans: ‘Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Are Creating An Incentive For People Not To Return To Work … It’s Not Because People Are Lazy … It’s Because People Are Logical,’ Businesses ‘Can’t Compete When The Federal Government Is Paying Americans More To Stay Home’

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “We hear about the challenges the employers have. They cannot get people to return to work. Why? Because of the expanded unemployment benefits. I am so proud of our governor, Gov. Kim Reynolds, she has joined Montana’s governor in pushing back on the additional federal dollars for the expanded unemployment benefits. So Iowa is joining that march to get our economy back up and going. We will have people returning to work.” (Sen. Ernst, Press Conference, 5/13/2021)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “So I’m here to tell you what small businesses are telling me and I believe are telling everyone that’s here and that is that enhanced unemployment benefits are creating an incentive for people not to return to work until they expire. It’s not because people are lazy. … It’s because people are logical. Because it’s logic that if you’re going to make close to, or as much, in some cases more than what you do in your work, you’ll go back to work when that expires. We have a labor crisis in this country.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Conference, 5/13/2021)

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): “The other thing we’re hearing about that we’ve been hearing about now for weeks and months is people just don’t wanna go to work. That there are more jobs than people that wanna go to work, and a lot of that is caused by the federal government. If you add the $300 a week to the average state unemployment, your weekly unemployment including that $300 is $618 a week. If you can make more than $15 an hour by staying home, a lot of people can’t make that right now going to work. It doesn’t mean that $15 an hour is the problem; it means paying people too much not to work is a problem. 21 states have either already stopped or announced they’re gonna stop accepting the $300 additional federal money. Washington, D.C. is creating a problem here that states are having to solve one by one on their own. It’s time we realize the problem we’re creating both with inflation and a shortage of workers in the country.” (Sen. Blunt, Press Conference, 5/18/2021)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): “One thing the administration is not changing course on is that it wants to continue to pay people a substantial amount not to work. Now, in my view, during the COVID-19 crisis--at the heat of it--we needed to do something to help people who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and the States’ unemployment systems were the places to do that. So we added a Federal supplement on top of the State unemployment benefit. … That means that, for 42 percent of the people who are on unemployment insurance--this is a national figure--they are making more on unemployment than they were at work. So a lot of people have made the logical decision and say: Why should I be going back to work? … It is a problem, by the way, that States themselves are now starting to deal with because they realize this is a huge problem for their economies, for their small businesses, and for their workforces. As of this afternoon, just in the last week, 15 States have said: Do you know what? I am not going to accept the $300 supplement because I want to get people back to work. It is already making a difference. … So these States I think are going to continue to do this. I think it will be more than 15 by the time we are finished speaking here this afternoon.” (Sen. Portman, Congressional Record, S2505-2506, 5/13/2021)

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): “Before the pandemic, Republican-led policies created the most inclusive economy in my lifetime with record low unemployment for minorities. When the pandemic hit we passed bipartisan legislation to get business owners and workers the help they needed to get through a tough year… Now, America is on the rebound. But rather than encouraging folks to reenter the workforce, the Biden administration is pushing a policy that pays people not to work—further crippling our already recovering economy. South Carolina businesses are looking for workers, and I’m glad that our governor is leading by example to incentivize folks to get back to work again. It’s time we put our entire country on the path to follow suit.” (Sen. Scott, Press Release, 5/12/2021)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): “The federal unemployment benefit has had the effect of discouraging return to work. It is now time for that program to come to an end… The federal unemployment benefit has made it almost impossible for service industry businesses to maintain their workforce. In a significant number of cases, the unemployment benefits exceed wages earned from working. I know many have lost work due to no fault of their own, but it is now time to let the economy open fully depending on employer wages, not government benefits.” (Sen. Graham, Press Release, 5/12/2021)

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): “It’s heartbreaking to hear from Florida business leaders that have done everything needed to survive shutdowns and the impacts of COVID-19 and now find themselves struggling to fully reopen. … [W]hat I’ve heard from countless other businesses in Florida and across the nation in recent months – they can’t compete when the federal government is paying Americans more to stay home than go back to their jobs. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have supported the effort to get targeted aid to struggling families and businesses. I fought to include a provision in the CARES Act to ensure we weren’t creating a disincentive to return to work, but the Democrats blocked it. Now we are seeing the consequences. I applaud Governors across the nation who are taking action to get their citizens back to work. While President Biden and the Democrats remain in denial about what is happening, I will keep working to support our small businesses, get Americans back to work and get our economy fully reopened.” (Sen. Scott, Press Release, 5/13/2021)

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): “Throughout my travels across Kansas I hear constantly how employers are struggling to find people for open jobs because folks are staying at home due to the rich unemployment benefits and the stimulus checks that Democrats continue to enhance. While there are certainly people that needed access to increased unemployment benefits during the heart of this pandemic, we should not be in the business of creating lucrative government dependency that makes it more beneficial to stay unemployed rather than return to work… At a time when our nation is on its way to reaching herd immunity and businesses are emerging from government imposed lockdowns, President Biden has delivered them a government imposed labor shortage.” (Sen. Marshall, Press Release, 5/12/2021)

SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): “I hear from businesses small and large up and down Indiana that they can’t get workers back on the job, and a big reason is that the federal government is still paying folks to stay on the sidelines with an additional enhanced federal unemployment benefit. The federal government is a poor replacement for an economy, and as every American adult is eligible for a vaccine if they want one it’s time to get America back to work.” (Sen. Braun, Press Release, 5/11/2021)

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): “All across Tennessee, business owners are struggling to get workers back on the job… Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Washington liberals are paying people more money to stay at home. It’s time to reduce big government handouts that incentivize Americans to remain unemployed now that jobs are plentiful.” (Sen. Blackburn, Press Release, 5/11/2021)

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): “As part of their partisan stimulus bill, Democrats extended the $300 a week Federal unemployment benefit, a weekly payment, in addition to the State benefit that folks already get. … Small business owners all across Alabama have been able to reopen, and customers are coming back. Now they need people to fill the jobs to keep the doors open. Across America, businesses are no longer competing against other businesses. Now they have to compete against the government--government versus the private sector--and the government is stacking the deck against our small businesses and manufacturers. … The Biden-backed unemployment benefits are crushing their hopes of getting back to a prepandemic high. We are even seeing some States take matters into their own hands. Earlier this week, I was glad to see Alabama be one of the first States to announce plans to stop accepting enhanced Federal unemployment benefits. As of today, at least 16 States have announced they won’t accept the benefit to help employers and encourage folks to get back to work. This is a commonsense move to encourage folks to take the many job opportunities available.” (Sen. Tuberville, Congressional Record, S2508-2509, 5/13/2021)

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): “Across Montana, businesses are putting up ‘help wanted’ and ‘now hiring’ signs, and many are even being forced to close because they can’t find enough workers. Instead of keeping folks on the sidelines and giving people more money to stay home, we should incentivize getting back to work.” (Sen. Daines, Press Release, 5/11/2021)



Related Issues: Labor, Small Business, Jobs, Economy