Businesses face staffing shortages as restrictions loosen; $1,000 bonus proposed to go back to work

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 11:39 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “Temporarily Closed” signs can be found all over the country right now, and Louisiana is no different.

Both Louisiana senators say the problem is unemployment benefits keeping many from returning to work, although they say the decision to continue those benefits should be decided at the state level.

“No question that our businesses, including and especially our small businesses, need workers,” said U.S. Sen. John Kennedy.

“Statistically, families do better when people work,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy.

“So if our governor and our Legislature decides this is a disincentive to work, and people can make just the same amount of money if they actually go to work, then they should pursue that path,” said Cassidy.

Many governors have already chosen to end the federal unemployment extension of $300 on top of what states already offer, but Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has not announced plans to do the same.

Meanwhile, a proposal from state Republicans would offer $1,000 to those who give up their right to unemployment and return to the work force.

State Democrats say not all jobs work out and people may have to get their benefits back in case of an emergency.

Rep. Michael Echols, of Louisiana’s 14th District, sponsored the proposal.

“If you look at other states, 11 or 12 other states cut off the federal benefit to try to motivate people. That’s a negative incentive,” said Echols.

“We’re already losing jobs right now to Texas, we’re losing jobs even to Mississippi, and of course Florida and the states that are aggressive around business.”

“It’s creating a market imbalance, and when you have these types of imbalances, it can destroy jobs.”

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how long local businesses will face staffing shortages even as the pandemic continues to wind down.

The owner of “The Store” Restaurant in Metairie tells FOX 8 he has decided to close on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to take some pressure off his employees.

“We are struggling to hire evening positions. For months, my wonderful team has stepped up and worked longer hours; but everyone is tired, including me. Instead of possibly losing my loyal team members, I decided to close on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to take some pressure off of everyone.”

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