Workforce Shortage Slowing Economic Recovery

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

In a statement, PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr noted that over the past several months, despite Pennsylvania’s high unemployment rate and rising wages, a large number of employers – across a broad spectrum of industries – have reported difficulties filling open positions.  As a result, employers have been forced to reduce hours or even close operations.  Many are pointing to policies related to unemployment compensation exacerbating these challenges, including the continued waiving of the work search requirement and the additional $300 in weekly federal benefit payments.  Barr referenced a recent study by the American Action Forum found that an estimated 40 percent of unemployment compensation claimants are making more in benefits than they were in wages.  To date, 24 states have ended their participation in the enhanced federal benefit program in order to encourage the transition of individuals back into the workforce.

“Despite claims to the contrary, the impacts of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits are not negligible,” Barr said.  “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.”

As part of the Bringing PA Back initiative, the PA Chamber is asking the business community to provide testimonials describing the challenges they are facing trying to fill open positions.  We encourage you to participate in this effort.  Click here to access the online form.