AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Association of Business (TAB) is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to reexamine federal unemployment benefits.
The organization along with several businesses and chambers of commerce wrote a letter to the Abbott, saying employers increasingly cite the $300 additional weekly federal supplement payment as the biggest barrier to filling job openings.
They want the governor’s office to end the state’s participation in the program.
TAB recently surveyed its business members to determine if they are struggling to find workers as they reopen. The association said of the 177 businesses surveyed, 70% said they had several positions currently open.
“What’s missing right now are workers, and we believe the federal assistance, which had been helpful at the start of the pandemic, is now a barrier to getting people employed,” said Glenn Hamer, CEO of TAB.
Unemployed in Texas
Mimi is a 61-year-old grandmother in Central Texas. She was laid off when COVID-19 hit and was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease shortly after.
“I loved what I did; I loved working. I hated being home the past year,” Mimi said.
But she joined millions of Texans filing for unemployment, which she said has been her lifeline. She is applying for jobs but said her search is limited because of her health and age.
“If I get kicked off of unemployment, I’ll have to file for disability and that sucks, because I feel like I’m being forced out of the workforce, and I’m not ready to retire,” Mimi explained.
She believes better pay from employers and health insurance are part of the solution to help get workers off unemployment.
KXAN reached out to the governor’s office to see if Abbott is reexamining federal unemployment benefits. We will update this story once a response is received.
Austin-based ThisWay Global says its seen a number of people who are currently unemployed because of legitimate life circumstances caused by the pandemic that prohibit them from returning to work. The company says many of those people are now schooling their children from home, caring for vulnerable family members or experiencing COVID themselves. The company found that there are also people who are able to return to work but choose not to because they are receiving more income by claiming unemployment benefits.
ThisWay Global urges employers to change their recruiting efforts from simply posting jobs and focus on innovative and diverse recruiting strategies that connect openings with those who are ready to work.