Worker shortage could continue despite expiration of federal unemployment benefits

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2021 at 5:37 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Many local businesses closed up shop for Labor Day, but the need for people to work remains.

“It sure does seem like it’s as easy as ever to get a job right now, but I believe the work shortage is just going to continue on,” said Steve McFarlane, the President of the Greater Green Bay Labor Council.

He isn’t sure the recent expiration of COVID related federal unemployment benefits will help with the worker shortage.

“I think that there was a lot of blame placed on the unemployment benefits, the extended federal amount, that that’s the reason people were able to make more money not working,” he said. “But I think even before that was discontinued, we had a pretty major worker shortage.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the benefits cut could impact nearly 33,000 people in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development posted on its website that labor force grew by 9,600 people in July 2021, and the unemployment rate for the same month was at 3.9%.

The Job Center of Wisconsin website shows more than 117,000 jobs available.

But McFarlane isn’t sure there will be a lot of job growth following the expiration of unemployment aid. He said there are many reasons people might not return to work, but the pandemic is a major one adding uncertainty in job security.

“It’s so much up in the air based on COVID and actually in the Delta variant now, whether there’s a sure thing for tomorrow,” he said.

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