NFIB State Director Tom Underwood said today the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization has joined nine other groups in signing a letter urging Gov. Andy Beshear to address Kentucky’s labor shortage by not participating in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs.
“Right now in Kentucky, there are more job openings than there are job applicants,” Underwood said.
“This supplemental unemployment benefit was always intended as a temporary fix to last year’s economic disaster,” Underwood said. “People who lost their jobs because their employers had to reduce hours or close altogether couldn’t simply turn around and get another job. There were no jobs to get. The extra money helped families get through the crisis.
“One year later, businesses are hiring again, but one business after another is saying they can’t find enough people to work,” Underwood said. “Some people may be staying home to care for young children or older family members or out of concern over the coronavirus, but small businesses and the commonwealth need workers to help end the supply chain shortages and get us back to a normal life.
“Waiting until the temporary supplement benefits expire in September will only add more damage to Kentucky’s economy,” Underwood said.
Here is the full text of the letter:
The Honorable Andy Beshear
Office of the Governor
Frankfort, KY 40601
Re: Request to Discontinue Kentucky Participation in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Programs
Dear Governor Beshear,
The undersigned represent public policy organizations, business membership organizations, and small business employers across your state. We urge you to discontinue Kentucky’s participation in the federal pandemic unemployment programs established last year by the CARES Act.
We recognize the challenges that faced this country due to the pandemic have been significant. Some businesses were forced to fundamentally change how they operated, while others had to make fast adjustments to keep serving their communities safely and employing their workers. Unfortunately, not every business was able to survive. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that businesses can find the workers they need to keep their doors open and the lights on.
Right now, the best thing for our state, its economy, and our residents, is to set the timeline for a return to normal. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a record number of jobs, more than eight million, available across the country. In Kentucky, we have more than 77,000 jobs unfilled. Our state must prioritize helping businesses fill the safe, good-paying open jobs that they are offering right now.
A membership survey conducted in April by the National Federation of Independent Businesses indicated a record number of small businesses with job openings they could not fill. Likewise, polling by the Foundation for Government Accountability shows 73 percent of businesses reporting difficulty in hiring. Further, a majority of employers said they have missed business opportunities, had individuals not show for work after a job offer, and have even had employees refuse to return to work due to how lucrative the federal unemployment bonus has made not working.
We are grateful for the steps you and your administration took to protect public health during the depths of the pandemic. We were with you every step of the way, complying with new requirements and doing what we could to ensure the safety of Kentuckians. Now, we ask your administration to signal an important step for a fast recovery, and ultimately, a return to the normalcy that we all certainly want.
Associated General Contractors of Kentucky
Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky
KY Grocers and Convenience Stores Association
Kentucky Manufactured Housing Institute
Kentucky Restaurant Association
Kentucky Retail Federation
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association
National Federation of Independent Business
National Association of Women Business Owners