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Maintaining a ready workforce during COVID-19, when unemployment benefits and enhancements make it more advantageous for some hourly workers to stay home, was one of the challenges discussed during NJBIA’s recent online town hall meeting of over 100 business owners and nonprofit leaders.

Roy Fazio, owner of the Cherry Hill-based staffing firm Protocall Group, said that increased unemployment benefits were making it difficult to recruit job candidates in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area markets for positions that pay an hourly wage.

“It’s never been this difficult to get people to accept job positions and have a ready workforce,” Fazio said. “First we had the federal incentive of paying people $600 (extra) a week. Now we have the New Jersey state incentive that will pay people $300 a week to stay on unemployment.”

Instead of boosting unemployment benefits, it would be better if the state created a grant program that distributes the money to employers to raise wages of workers by $2 an hour so that people can earn more by working than by collecting unemployment benefits, he said. Pennsylvania has moved forward with a program like this, he said.

Other speakers in this video segment about workforce development challenges include Bob Lipka of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP), a not-for-profit organization that helps small and mid-size New Jersey manufacturers increase productivity and globally competitive.

The Oct. 22 town hall-style via video conference was hosted by NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka and organized by the New Jersey Business Coalition, which includes business organizations and nonprofits from all over New Jersey. Members of the news media and legislators were also on the call.

Go here to watch the video clip, or click on the video link below.