On Tuesday, May 18th, the Board of Directors of The Chamber of Commerce discussed two pieces of legislation and other efforts to help increase the region’s workforce. Filling open positions is a major issue for employers of all types and sizes. Factors keeping people from reentering the workforce include health concerns, school schedules, and the $300 per week federal unemployment bonus. The Board supports the following measures related to these issues:
State House Bill 406– Would reinstate the active work search requirement in order to receive unemployment benefits. The requirement was waived at the beginning of the pandemic.
State House Bill 596– Would require an individual to demonstrate health or safety concerns when refusing work or quitting work in order to receive unemployment benefits.
Eliminating the $300/week unemployment compensation bonus – The federal bonus was extended until September 6th as part of the American Rescue Plan. At least 21 states are ending the bonus program prior to that date, though Governor Wolf has not indicated that he would do so. Legislation is being drafted that would end that benefit early in Pennsylvania.
Encouraging individuals to get vaccinated – The Chamber is partnering with Geisinger to encourage people to voluntarily get vaccinated by sharing information on social media and in other messaging. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also developed resources to help employers communicate with their employees that are hesitant about the vaccine.
“Our area’s economy is getting stronger, but we could be doing so much better if area employers were operating at full capacity.” said Fred Gaffney, Chamber president. “People have done a lot to support one another and area businesses through the pandemic. Now, we all need to do our part to get out of it.”