UCAN – the United Chamber Advocacy Network and 20 statewide and local business organizations called on the Governor Gavin Newsom to address concerns of employers throughout California – that enhanced federal and state benefits are stalling economic recovery by incentivizing job seekers to stay home rather than accept available jobs.
As California reopens and state and local COVID related restrictions are eased, the groups cite recent employer surveys and government statistics to make the case for immediate policy changes.
A recent UCAN employer survey found that 78% of employers have current job openings and, among those, 78% said they were having difficulty hiring employees. And of that group, 56% said prospective employees indicated they would prefer to accept current COVID benefits than accept a job.
Dave Butler, advocate for UCAN noted that on May 10, President Biden directed the US Dept. of Labor to work with states to reinstate work requirements. Butler said, “but as of today, the EDD website still says California’s work requirement is waived” and further noted that while the US unemployment rate is 5.8%, the unemployment rate in California is over 8%.
To address and assess the barriers enhanced government assistance programs are presenting to California’s economic recovery, the groups called on Newsom and the Legislature to undertake the following actions:
1. Immediately reinstate the requirement for job seekers to demonstrate they are seeking work, which was suspended at the beginning of COVID. https://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Eligibility.htm
2. Require EDD to conduct a 30-day analysis to verify employers’ concerns and determine if indeed job seekers are turning down jobs in favor of COVID relief.
3. Call upon local Workforce Investment Boards to do the same to “fact check” the EDD report.
4. Do not extend any current COVID benefits beyond their current expiration date, pending the EDD analysis.
5. Based on the EDD and WIB findings, urge the Legislature to consider the status of enhanced COVID benefits.
UCAN, the California Business Properties Association, the California Retailers Association and the California Building Industry Association were joined by business and chamber of commerce organizations representing El Dorado, Los Angeles, Placer, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Sutter, Ventura and Yuba counties.