It is something people have been saying for a few months now: it is difficult to hire anyone because people are staying home accepting their unemployment with its extra $300 per week benefit. But is this accurate?
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, unemployment rates skyrocketed as businesses were forced to close. As things started to pick up in early 2021, many companies have found it hard to get their employees back.
The unemployment rate for Clearfield County was 7.4 percent in April, up slightly from 7.2 percent in March, according to a representative of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
There are 231 jobs posted in the area in a variety of industries, but retail stores seem to be the majority of ones looking to fill positions.
Brock Kull, the vice president and managing director of Manpower, stated in an interview that finding good employees has been a problem in this area for a while, especially for entry level positions.
Many are unable to pass a drug screening and or criminal background check, he explained.
Manpower provides employees for a variety of employers from low level to professional positions including temporary and part-time workers as well as direct hires.
The pandemic just made the task of finding an employee more difficult, he said, adding, “I think people want to work.”
He cited a continued fear of uncertainty about the pandemic and childcare as reasons people are choosing to stay home.
Having extended unemployment benefits has allowed them to be pickier about the jobs they choose and has given them the confidence to “wait it out.”
In an attempt to attract employees, organizations like Sheetz are now raising their rates, making the market for workers more competitive, leaving some smaller businesses struggling even more.
Kull commented that the white-collar workers are starting to come back, but there is still a shortage for manufacturing positions.
If anyone is interested in applying for a job with Manpower, you can call the DuBois office at 814-371-5511 or go to its Web site, manpowercentralpa.com.
Several local restaurants have commented to other media about having to cut their hours due to limited personnel. A reason for this may be that these workers have simply found other jobs paying more than the minimum wage of $7.25. While wait staff are still paid only $2.83 an hour plus tips.
“$2.83 an hour is simply not enough to survive today in Pennsylvania, where the living wage has been calculated to be more than $11.50 an hour,” said PA Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier in a recent press release.
“We need to eliminate the $2.83 tipped wage and ensure every Pennsylvania worker is earning at least $12 an hour for their hard work.”
Several other officials including Gov. Tom Wolf have suggested raising the minimum wage, which hasn’t gone up since 2009. Twenty-nine other states have already raised the minimum wage for their workers.
Berrier also stated, “This is not about $7.25, it’s about every worker who makes less than $12 an hour. Too many people are working hard, especially at jobs providing services to the public during the pandemic, and still struggling to pay for food or other basic needs. It’s time we treat every Pennsylvania worker with respect and dignity by increasing our minimum wage to at least $12 an hour.”
According to a recent study, 67 percent of registered voters in the state are in favor of raising the minimum wage. A proposed plan would raise it to $12 with it increasing slowly increasing to $15 an hour.
With the pandemic, we labeled many of those working for low wages as “essential,” which supports the idea that these people should be able to earn a livable wage.
As for the theory that people are just sitting at home collecting the extra money, it is a condition of the pandemic unemployment funds that no suitable job is refused and they must go back to work if called or lose their benefits.
The debate on this may continue for another month when the condition on looking for work is restored for everyone seeking unemployment benefits.