SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and several state associations are urging people to get back to work after what they call a growing labor crisis.
The Georgia Chamber released an op-ed on Monday, laying out several ways to get people back to work.
“We all know that Georgians have an incredible work ethic and want to work. As we continue to recover from this pandemic-induced recession, we are hearing from a growing chorus of small business owners, agricultural leaders, managers in retail, manufacturing and nearly every industry sector across the country concerned about the lack of available workforce,” the chamber said.
Many businesses in the Savannah area are also seeing worker shortages. North Beach Bar & Grill on Tybee Island is in its busiest time of the year, but with nobody willing to work it’s making running a business tough.
“We’re lucky enough to start filling positions but not as much as we’re used to this time of the year,” General Manager Rob Frame said.
What started as a shortage of customers at the beginning of the pandemic has turned into a labor issue believed to be because of the federal pandemic unemployment benefits.
“I’m sure there are people that need that assistance and that’s fine in life but I’m sure there are some people that don’t need that assistance,” Frame said.
The Georgia Chamber says that in 2020, Georgia saw a record 40% annual increase in the number of economic development projects announced and the economy has quickly rebounded thanks to a balanced pandemic strategy, but they’re asking Governor Brian Kemp and Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to do more.
“Ask the governor and the commissioner of labor to address some short-term needs which we think will get people back to work like stopping the payment of the additional $300 federal fees,” President & CEO Chris Clark said.
Clark said those funds can be redirected to a statewide job signing bonus program or other back-to-work initiatives.
“If you look at the numbers, the numbers show that Georgia employers have posted 460,000 job openings in the last 90 days but 273,000 people are still drawing the federal unemployment insurance. So we think there’s a mix-match there,” Clark said.
The Georgia Chamber said job creators are doing their part to get people back to work by raising wages and offering incentives.
“The economy has rebounded quickly. It’s remarkable but if we don’t have the workers come back at the same time we’re really going to miss this opportunity to jump start Georgia’s economy,” Clark said.
News 3 has reached out to the governor and labor commissioner’s office to see if an announcement is expected to end federal benefits. We’re still waiting to hear back.
The Chamber provided these suggestions to get people back to work:
- Suspend additional federal unemployment benefits and direct available funds to a statewide job signing bonus program or other back-to-work initiative that helps match jobs to job seekers. This will incentivize Georgians’ return-to-work efforts.
- Require unemployed Georgians to actively seek employment while drawing benefits.
- Redirect federal funds to support our technical colleges and universities in rapid re-training and certification programs that upskill our labor force for new economy jobs. Of course, we should allow these Georgians to continue collecting unemployment benefits as they re-train on a ramp-down timeline.
- Eliminate the outdated Federal Self Certification Declaration checklist for unemployment insurance and return to a robust qualification process.
- Utilize existing federal funds to improve the appeals process and address childcare benefit needs. This will clear out the backlogs in our Department of Labor so that more workers can exit the system and find meaningful work to support their families.
- Build on the momentum of Governor Kemp’s needs-based scholarships to help more first-generation, low-income students find career success.
- Develop a federal bipartisan solution to our existing H-1B, H-2A and H-2B worker visa programs that ensure Georgia companies and agricultural producers have the talent needed to meet growing demand.
- Support the work of the Georgia House of Representatives Maximizing Global Talent Study Committee which will examine current regulatory burdens as well as opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity.
- Finally, prepare our students to compete in the new economy by improving and coordinating our talent pipeline through a review of Georgia’s education delivery system that focuses on entrepreneurial training, upskilling, life-long learning, STEM and evolving 21st century skills.