As the state and nation begin to see a return to normalcy with an increase in vaccinated Kentuckians and relaxed regulations, a workforce shortage still remains across the state.
To begin to fix this issue, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to Gov. Andy Beshear Friday asking that the administration consider phasing out Kentucky’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC). The program is providing an additional $300 per week in benefits to unemployed workers eligible for Unemployment Insurance.
Ending participation in the federal program, the Chamber said, will support Kentucky’s economic recovery from the pandemic and help address a serious workforce shortage faced by employers across the state as Kentucky looks to reopen to 100% capacity in the coming weeks.
“The business community fully recognizes that ending Kentucky’s participation in FPUC is not a cure-all for our current workforce shortage. Important steps must also be taken to increase access to high-quality child care, retrain and reskill workers, and increase vaccination rates. We also believe that return-to-work incentives, which other states have implemented, are worth exploring, particularly incentives that assist working parents to afford and have access to child care. But FPUC is a contributing factor to the workforce shortage, and it is one that we can address today. We urge you to take the necessary steps to phase out Kentucky’s participation in this program by mid-July to continue supporting the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and our return to a new, safer normal,” Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts wrote in the letter.
“We appreciate the important step you have already taken to address the workforce shortage by reinstating the work search requirement for receiving unemployment benefits. Ending Kentucky’s participation in the FPUC program earlier than the September sunset is a logical next step. The Chamber remains committed to working with your office to rebuild our economy, and we look forward to continuing to work together to bring Kentuckians back to work and fully recover the jobs we lost last Spring.”