BATON ROUGE, LA (May 19, 2021) — With a worker shortage impacting businesses statewide, Louisiana’s leading trade associations joined together this week to ask Gov. John Bel Edwards to discontinue the state’s use of federal enhanced unemployment benefits.
The broad, business community coalition of 10 organizations sent a letter to the governor specifying their concerns and the challenges their members have faced when hiring new employees.
“We believe this additional benefit was an important short-term solution to help individuals who were adversely impacted at the start of the pandemic,” the coalition’s letter states. “However, 13 months later, many employers are finding it near impossible to fully staff their business which impacts the supply chain and timely delivery of goods and services.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals claiming unemployment benefits have been able to receive $300 from the federal government in addition to the state’s $247 weekly payout. With more sectors of the economy reopening, 17 other states—including Southern neighbors in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina—have already taken action to opt-out of the additional funding.
“Only a few months ago, businesses were scaling back, reducing hours, and limiting services because of the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Dawn McVea, the State Director for the National Association of Independent Business. “Now, they're doing it because they can't find enough people to work.”
The letter also notes that the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than it was pre-pandemic. Yet there are thousands of vacant jobs throughout the state needing to be filled. Business owners are turning potential customers away at the door because they struggle staffing their companies: companies which are now able to return to full capacity but for lack of employees.
“Talk to any small business owner on Main Street right now and they’ll tell you that their biggest problem is finding workers,” said LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack. “Rebuilding our economy is going to require a team effort that starts with getting Louisiana’s workforce back on the job.”
Signatories of the letter include Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), the Louisiana Business Group on Health, the Louisiana Homebuilders Association (LHBA), the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association, the Louisiana Oil Marketers and Convenience Store Association, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), the Louisiana Retailers Association, the Louisiana Motor Transport Association (LMTA) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
To read the full letter, click HERE.
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About the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry was organized in 1975 to represent Louisiana businesses, serving as both the state chamber of commerce and state manufacturers association. LABI’s primary goal is to foster a climate for economic growth by championing the principles of the free enterprise system and representing the general interest of the business community through active involvement in the political, legislative, judicial and regulatory processes. Find out more information at www.labi.org