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Business owners are now navigating rising supply costs and labor shortages that have made this pandemic economy one of the most confusing economic times in decades.

On the “Office Hour” podcast with host Sarah Krom, of SKC & Co. CPAs, NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka talked about the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons for these challenges and what changes the state’s policymakers need to make to get more people back to work.

Although the federal unemployment supplement, which gives jobless people an extra $300 a week in benefits through Sept. 4, has been a disincentive for some to return to work – especially low-wage earners with entry-level skills – it’s not the only reason businesses are short-staffed now, Siekerka said.

“You have a lot of people that still have the inability to have their young children taken care of the way they were before, and that causes people to continue to stay out of the labor market,” Siekerka said.

“Folks will say: ‘What’s the problem? Childcare facilities are open 100%.’  Well, the problem is that while childcare facilities are open 100%, they actually can’t take in more students because of restrictions on the way they operate,” Siekerka said, referring to recent pandemic-related state mandates.

“There are still some mandates on the childcare industry that cause their inability to group children in a way that allows them to maximize staffing,” Siekerka said. The result is that parents who want to return to work cannot because of long waiting lists for openings at childcare facilities.

“We’ve been pounding this with the Governor’s Office because there’s already all these safety precautions in these facilities and we’ve got to get these kids placed,” Siekerka said.

To view the entire July 23 podcast, go here.