Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
May 20th, 2021

Getting Back to Work

We live in crazy times. First, we have the federal government passing legislation to aid workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and now we have numerous states refusing to go along with the program. According to an article released by Forbes this week, governors of at least 21 states have announced they are prematurely ending their participation in the federal government’s supplemental unemployment program which has been putting $300 extra per week into the pockets of unemployed workers. Why you ask? The main reason is that they feel that this program is contributing to the labor crisis.

There are plenty of jobs out there. In fact, there are many businesses suffering due to lack of employees, and many employers attribute this to the fact that potential employees have less incentive to work. It has become a real problem and one that I hear about on a weekly basis from nearly all of my door and window customers. I can’t tell you how many times I hear the statement: No one wants to work these days!

“We have people coming in to apply for jobs. We hand them an application. They take a photo of the application and then walk out the door without filling out the application and in fact do not even take the application with them,” says the president of a major door and window company in the Ohio Valley. “What do they say?” I ask.  “Thank you!” he says. “That is all that I needed!”

Clearly such applicants are not really showing up to land a job. They are simply there to show the government that they took an application. Does this mean that they do not even have to show that they completed the application or applied for a position? “That is what I call milking the system!” exclaims one human resources manager.

In an effort to help lure workers back to work, many door and window and fabricators have raised their hourly wages and offered bonuses to new employees who stay on the job for a certain number of weeks. But still, they have been struggling to maintain an adequate work force. So, news that their states will be opting out of the federal program is music to the ears of many a manufacturer in these 21 states.

What about the other states? The $300-a-week federal payments are a reduced version of a $600 weekly benefit authorized last March under the CARES Act to help the millions of workers thrown out of work amidst the coronavirus pandemic. They will continue until September 6 in states that do not opt out of the federal program.

Some of the states that are opting out are instead offering return to work bonuses instead of what some refer to as “stay at home incentives.” Montana will instead offer a one-time $1,200 bonus for returning to work. Oklahoma is offering a $1,200 incentive.

Arizona governor Doug Ducey said that his state will stop paying federal benefits on July 10 but will instead offer a $2,000 return-to-work bonus. But Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is ending the supplement on June 26 is refusing to add a back to work incentive. “The number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits,” says Abbott. He goes on to say that this does not even include many jobs in construction and restaurants according to an article in the Dallas Morning News.

So, once these extra $300 weekly benefits are phased out by the end of June in most of these states, will we see workers flocking back to the door and window factories eager to man the saws, welders, corner cleaners and forklifts? What is the current fear factor? According to an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, 37.5% of the country’s population has now been vaccinated with numbers rising daily. This fact should surely encourage their return to work.

What about the door and window factories operating in the states that continue to offer the $300 Federal supplement? Will these companies find themselves falling behind in the marketplace as their competitors in neighboring states boost their output and reduce lead times?  It sure will be interesting to see how this plays out.

It has often been said that “the working people are the backbone of our country.” If that is the case, perhaps, after a slip on the ice, too much medicine has been prescribed and a quicker adjustment at the chiropractor is all that is needed.



One comment
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  1. Great to see incentives being offered for people to return to work rather than staying home. There’s a lot of opportunity in our industry right now!

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