Sunday, December 4th, 2022
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MADISON — Home Instead Senior Care prides itself on “helping people age in place safely, with dignity and independence.”

David Kyhn, owner of Home Instead franchises serving southern Milwaukee County and Waukesha County, says its becoming increasingly difficult to serve the growing number of seniors and disabled adults in need of non-medical, in-home support.

Kyhn can’t find enough employees.

He says he’s raised wages 25 percent and has offered generous signing bonuses, but applicants are down 75 percent over the past year.

“It’s very frustrating. We have to tell seniors and families we can’t help them,” Kyhn said. “We are all desperate.”

A severe worker shortage is why so many small businesses are struggling, even as the Badger State economy emerges from the pandemic. And the federal unemployment bonus is only making the situation worse.

Business advocates like Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce are urging lawmakers to support Senate Bill 354, a measure that would end Wisconsin’s participation in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits, which are proving to be a disincentive for some Wisconsinites to return to work.

More than 20 states have done away with the $300 federal enhancement. With the $370 top weekly state unemployment benefit, many claimants are taking in $670 a week in jobless relief — or about $17 an hour.

In short, some unemployed Wisconsinites are making more staying home than they are at work. There’s little incentive to get back into the labor force.

No wonder so many Wisconsin businesses are having a hard time hiring, even at wages well above the left’s screaming demand of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

“I’m afraid this inability to find workers is going to be an extinction level event for a lot of businesses in our state,” Scott Manley, WMC’s senior vice president of government relations, tells Empower Wisconsin.

It’s so bad, Manley said, manufacturers are having to turn down contracts for the goods they make because they can’t find enough people to do the jobs. Restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality trade, left for dead under Gov. Tony Evers’ lockdowns and local capacity limits for the better part of a year, are now facing closing again because they can’t get enough help.

“We can’t even find people to interview,” Bevco Engineering Inc. CEO Chris Shult told WMC. “It’s not a matter of we can’t find anyone that’s viable, it’s a matter of we can’t find anyone to even interview.”

When you break down the numbers, the problem comes into focus.

Some unemployed Wisconsinites over the past five months have made $34.22 an hour in government-paid income — if you add up the $1,400 per-person stimulus checks, full state-federal unemployment benefits, and the average tax refund.

Businesses are now forced to compete against government handouts. That’s a no-win situation for employers, taxpayers, the economy, future generations buried in government-issued debt, and the people collecting the pandemic-related windfall. When they decide to head back to work, they may not have a job to return to.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held a hearing on the bill that would end the unemployment bonus, which, at present, isn’t slated to terminate until September. An Assembly committee held a similar hearing on its companion legislation, AB 336, on Wednesday.

But Evers has signaled his plans to veto such legislation.

“We’ve reached out to the governor on this and unfortunately we’ve been ignored. We’re in a hole with the workforce shortage crisis and the government just keeps digging – making it worse for people to want to join the workforce,” said Chris Reader, WMC’s Senior Director of Workforce & Employment Policy.

Racine sued over voting van

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