Back to Work or Unemployment?
The actions of governments during the Covid-19 pandemic have come at a significant cost to the business community. Now, as states start to open up, a new challenge arises. Getting the unemployed, back to work.
Have the lock-downs and the top down executive orders did what they were intended to do, preserve health and safety?
The data shows that it has not worked one way or another. According to data by the Heritage Foundation, results from states with heavy lock-downs or no lock-downs remain mixed. States that did not lock-down (or limited), like Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming remain at the low end of the spectrum whereas states like New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey that imposed harsh lock-downs sit at the high end. It's a mixed bag.
Businesses have suffered immeasurably from government edicts. The emergency orders in Washington State began to segregate businesses into essential and non-essential status. Then came the phases, giving some flexibility to counties, then the state changed the metrics, then came the usurpation of the phases at the Governor's whim. After all of this, many businesses are currently only allowed to partially open.
The most recent dilemma facing businesses is that some cannot get their employees to come back to work. Many have quit because the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits outpace wages. This isn't unique to Washington, either.
An owner of three restaurants in New York, said that the stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits have made it challenging to find workers because "they don’t have to come to work."
A close neighbor, Montana is set to end the unemployment payment program with the Federal government by the end of June. Governor Greg Gianforte said in an editorial that there will be bonuses for people going back to work.
Here in Grays Harbor, Washington, we are seeing the same results from government interventions playing out. A local owner of Shujack's Bar and Grill, Chris Schumacher says, "the majority of his cooks and bartenders were hired during Covid, half of them had no experience. Many of his employees didn't come back after the Governor's shutdown order. He says he still needs people and is hiring more cooks. (See position on Indeed)
Chris said, he is very concerned about the government subsidizing people for extended periods of time. He said, "It is hard getting employees back to work if they are making more at home."
He continued, "It has been tough thinking about the potential roll back of phases recently." Restaurants have a lot to consider, including food cost, staff, a reduction in business and many other things. Even if businesses are closed, they have to keep their licenses, insurance, bond, and taxes current. He says, "I am fortunate to have the crew I have now, they really have done an amazing job through this challenging time. It all starts with my team!"
Successful business owners, Kellie and Corey Daniels, began construction on their new venture called River Run RV Park, located at the entrance of the City of Cosmopolis. Kellie made the below request for hire on Facebook.
In the discussion, another construction company owner said they were having difficulty finding workers. Kellie expressed that "people were making more on government help."
There is no incentive for workers to return to their jobs when they are receiving unemployment benefits from the state and federal government. The March unemployment numbers in Grays Harbor County sits at 8.8%.
Contact Governor Inslee and tell him to follow the leaders of Montana and Florida. Tell him it is time for Washingtonians to get back to work.
Please, if you are able, shop at local businesses. They sure need our help right now. Buy a coffee, snack, eat a meal or patronize these businesses. They have been through a lot.
Back to Work or Unemployment?