NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka says generous jobless benefits that do not require people to show they’ve been actively seeking work are creating a hiring crisis for employers, but so are state COVID-19 operating restrictions on daycare centers that leave parents who do want to work without childcare options.
Speaking on NJ Spotlight News’ Chat Box with David Cruz, Siekerka pointed out the disconnect of the Murphy administration’s efforts to reopen the economy when it hasn’t lifted the COVID-19 restrictions that prevent daycare centers from operating at 100% capacity. The continued restrictions on enrollment capacity leave parents who want to work without childcare options.
“That means kids are home who could be in those centers,” Siekerka said. “We’re opening the State of New Jersey, but we’re not opening the ability for our children to be in safe places. We must lift those restrictions on those childcare centers now.”
Additionally, last year’s ban on J1 visa applicants for summer work are continuing to impact this year’s Shore area employers, Siekerka said.
Small business owners also continue to report that open jobs are remaining unfilled because generous unemployment benefits are disincentivizing people to get back to work, Siekerka said. The fact that the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development no longer requires people receiving benefits to show they are actively looking for work makes the situation worse.
“How is it that we have tens of thousands of vacant positions today that we can’t fill – and we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation?” Siekerka asked. “How is that we are not enforcing available for work, actively seeking work?”
Siekerka said Gov. Phil Murphy’s statement at a recent news conference that the labor shortage would work itself out when extended unemployment benefits end in September ignores the immediate impact that a labor shortage has on the summer tourism season.
“Do you want to see the tourism season decimated because we can’t hire a workforce?” Siekerka asked. “This is real.”
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