KANSAS BUSINESSES MEET WITH GOVERNOR, URGE HER TO END FEDERAL UI BENEFITS

Kansas Chamber of Commerce

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A coalition representing more than 8,000 Kansas businesses on Tuesday met with Governor Laura Kelly to discuss ending the state’s participation in the American Rescue Plan Act’s supplemental unemployment insurance benefit programs.

“The Kansas business community appreciated the opportunity to meet with Governor Kelly as well as Kansas Lt. Governor and Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland and Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Amber Shultz to share how government unemployment benefits are hindering businesses’ ability to fill the state’s more than 58,000 job openings,” said Kansas Chamber President and CEO Alan Cobb.

Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are among the 24 states that have announced they will end their participation in the federal program that provides the $300 weekly supplemental UI checks before it expires on September 6th. Both Oklahoma and Colorado also are offering one-time back to work bonuses.

National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Kansas State Director Dan Murray presented highlights from NFIB’s April Monthly Jobs Report.

“The tight labor market is the biggest concern for small businesses who are competing with various factors such as supplemental unemployment benefits, government-imposed restrictions, and the virus,” said Murray. “NFIB’s April Monthly Jobs Report found many small business owners unable to fill open positions and delaying their hiring or offering higher wages. Some owners are even offering ‘show up’ bonuses for workers who agree to take the job and actually show up for work.”

NFIB’s April Monthly Jobs Report shows:

• A record 44% had job openings they could not fill.
• 59% hired or tried hiring, up three points from March.
• 31% had few qualified applicants while 23% reported none.
• 31% raised compensation while 20% plan to raise compensation in the next three months.
• 8% cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem, the top overall concern.
• 37% have openings for skilled workers and 20% have openings for unskilled labor.

“Kansas employers shared first-hand with Governor Kelly their current struggles to fill open positions. Workforce shortages are at a critical point in Kansas, and our employers look forward to partnering with her administration to get Kansans retrained and motivated to return to work,” said KS SHRM Executive Director Natalie Bright.

Cobb reiterated that while the additional federal UI programs aren’t the only barrier for some Kansans to return to work, ending the state’s involvement would spur more workers to reengage in the state’s workforce.

“The additional unemployment benefits served a critical purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic when government required businesses to close or reduce their operations. However, Kansas has the pandemic under control and there are ample vaccines available,” Cobb said. “While our state’s economy is on the rebound, many employers are struggling to find workers. It is one thing for businesses to compete with one another for workers. It is entirely different for businesses to compete with government.”

The business coalition will continue to work with the Governor and her administration, the Kansas Legislature, and others to reengage unemployed Kansans in the state’s workforce.

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For more information, contact:

Sherriene Jones-Sontag
Kansas Chamber
[email protected]

Natalie Bright
KS SHRM
[email protected]

Emily Carlson
NFIB
907-891-4331 [email protected]
Dan Murray, NFIB Kansas
913-940-4218

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