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New Jersey’s small businesses may be hoping that the end of extended federal unemployment benefits next month will also bring a quick end to the current labor shortage, but experts told the New Jersey Monitor today that an overnight hiring boom is unlikely.

“We’re limping,” NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka told Monitor reporter Sophie Nieto-Munoz. “We’ve all made a plea for the workforce to come back, but people just are leaving jobs they have no desire to come back to or can’t come back to.”

Siekerka said it is not just the extra $300 a week in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which will expire Sept. 4, that has been keeping people out of the workforce. Health concerns and the lack of openings at childcare centers are problems for parents. And if there are COVID-19 outbreaks this fall in elementary schools, where children under 12 cannot be vaccinated, this will also keep parents at home.

Rutgers economist James Hughes told the Monitor that people will not go looking for a job the day after losing their benefits and prospective employees may be pickier with jobs they accept because they may wait for higher wages, more flexible hours, or the perfect career move.

Siekerka said she has been encouraging employers to rethink their business models — whether that means allowing employees to work remotely, automating jobs, or giving bonuses to workers who stay for more than six months.

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