Pandemic unemployment benefits impacting local businesses looking to hire

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Businesses across the country are struggling to hire workers and a lot has to do with the unemployment benefits that continue through the summer.

Right now, unemployment benefits outweigh getting a job and while it’s hurting our local economy, the state isn’t doing much about it. Massachusetts unemployment benefits and the federal weekly $300 jobless bonus checks through Labor Day are giving laid-off workers a lot of incentive to spend the summer without a job.

United Personnel hires seasonal temporary workers and assigns them to companies across the region. Their applications are down 60 percent compared to pre-pandemic numbers, largely in-part to the state’s unemployment benefits.

President of United Personnel Patricia Canavan told 22News, “I’ve had a couple of clients tell me they are looking to move production out of Massachusetts because they can’t find enough workers. These are threats to economic recovery, not only to our region but to our nation.”

It’s having an impact in downtown Springfield as well. Nadim’s Mediterranean Grill has a full outdoor patio but they haven’t been able to use it yet because they have no one to work it.

“People wanted to be seated outside and this is a 65 seat patio outside. We have the option to add more seats to it but we just can’t do it,” said Owner Nadim Kashouh.

A number of governors across the country are opting to end federal pandemic unemployment benefits, arguing they are contributing to a workforce shortage. Governor Baker said last week he is unlikely to cancel the $300 bonus.

New Hampshire is ending its participation in the federal pandemic unemployment program and introducing a bonus for people who return to work. Connecticut is also offering an incentive for those who find a job but plan to keep that $300 federal bonus in place.

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