RALEIGH – Talked to any owner or operator of a labor intensive business these days and you will undoubtedly hear about how hard it is to find workers sufficient to reopen and rev up to full speed. Much of that can be attributed to the bevy of federal relief money, and particularly layers of jobless benefits that makes trading the couch for a customer service job an uneconomical proposition.
That will come to an end sooner, rather than later, if state lawmakers have their way and, importantly, Governor Roy Cooper tones down his intransigence long enough to sign the bill.
Senate Bill 116, the Putting North Carolina Back to Work Act, would withdraw the state from the extra federal benefit programs, thereby suspending the extra $300 payments for not working, and will implement job search and acceptance requirements. The bill also directs $250 million of American Rescue Plan Act money to NCDHHS for child care subsidies, a provision to directly address opposition concerns that a lack of child care options was why so many could not return to work.
Twenty-six states have already withdrawn from these programs for similar reasons. The two extra federal benefit plans are set to expire in September, leading some to argue the early withdrawal is largely superfluous. Though, we’d bet it would make a big difference for employers, especially in hospitality industry, for the busiest months of the year.
The big question, as so often the case, is whether Cooper will actually let this become law; or if he’ll take a stand in defense of helicopter money and all it’s associated costs, thinking he can ride it out until September.