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In a virtual town hall this week and in multiple media reports, scores of business owners asked Gov. Phil Murphy to take any one of several steps available to him to remedy New Jersey’s hiring crisis.

NJBIA has now established a direct line for all impacted business owners and staff to convey their message to the governor through an action alert, which can be found here.

“We have heard from so many business owners about their unfilled jobs, even as many of them are raising their pay to the extent they can and offering incentives,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas. “This is an easy and direct way for them to stress their concern to the governor and our policymakers and ask them to take necessary action.” 

In her OpEd that ran in ROI-NJ earlier this week, NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka offered several steps Gov. Murphy could take to help bridge the gap between open jobs and unemployed candidates. 

Those recommendations include communications that “available for work” requirements will be enforce; removing access limitations to childcare, fully reopening one-stop career centers, reforming work requirements for youth workers, considering a lump sum federal unemployment insurance payment to motivate individuals to going back to work now and/or providing tax credits to those businesses struggling to raise wages in order to be competitive, as in bill S3759/A5735. 

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Business Coalition hosted a Hiring Crisis virtual town hall to address severe labor shortages as the state emerges from yearlong COVID-19-related restrictions. 

The 90-minute event, which featured nearly 150 attendees, included the following feedback from business owners: 

For New Jersey to have 7.7% unemployment right now with the demand we’re experiencing is completely illogical and has to change,” said Arnold Kamler, chairman and CEO of Kent International Inc., a bicycle manufacturer with 60 employees in New Jersey. “People are being paid more to stay home than to work. This is not American, it’s not capitalistic.” 

“The hospitality industry is the second largest industry in New Jersey, and we have been hit the hardest,” said Bhavesh Patel, New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association chairman and president of ADM Hotels. “We are getting bookings, but we can’t find staff to clean the rooms despite paying $18 to $20 (an hour) for housekeepers, and close to $25 (an hour) for people to work the front desk, so the rooms are sitting empty. We’re upon the summer season. We need help, and we need help right away.” 

“Our centers need to fully reopen to increase capacity and allow working mothers to return to the workforce,” said Karyn Jarzyk, owner/operator of numerous Kiddie Academy locations in the state. “Lifting capacity and other restrictions will allow the childcare industry to open classrooms to many more mothers trying to return to work.” 

The town hall and the topic continued to be covered by New Jersey’s largest media outlets this week, with business owners throughout the state speaking out. Here are some further reports: 

New Jersey Business Today: Business Owners on Hiring Nightmare: Plenty of Jobs, But No Takers – NJBIA – New Jersey Business & Industry Association 

NJ.com: ‘You have to pay me cash.’ Some workers asking to be paid under the table to keep unemployment benefits, N.J. employers say – nj.com 

NJ Spotlight News: NJ employers detail their struggle to fill open positions | Video | NJ Spotlight News 

NJ101.5: Worker shortage in NJ — it’s gone from bad to worse (nj1015.com) 

Gannett NJ: NJ jobs: Businesses panic with few workers filling positions. (northjersey.com) 

NJBIZ: Lawmakers, business groups press for tax credits to alleviate labor shortage – NJBIZ