MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – strongly backed efforts from the legislature that would eliminate a number of barriers faced by employers when hiring.
“Amid a crisis level workforce shortage, some pandemic-related policies like enhanced unemployment benefits and eliminating work-search requirements have created a disincentive to work,” said WMC Executive Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley. “We cannot afford to keep people on the sidelines any longer.”
On Wednesday, the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted to suspend an Emergency Rule that eliminated the requirement to search for work while receiving unemployment benefits. By suspending the rule, Wisconsinites will need to return to the practice of completing at least four work searches each week to qualify for unemployment benefits.
“This Emergency Rule was no longer sound public policy because there are tens of thousands of available jobs in our state and millions of Wisconsinites are safely engaging in the economy on a daily basis,” said WMC Senior Director of Workforce & Employment Policy Chris Reader, who delivered written testimony to the Committee on Wednesday. “WMC and our members thank Sen. Nass and Rep. Neylon for their leadership on this issue. Today’s action will help get able-bodied individuals back into the workforce.”
Earlier this week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Howard Marklein also introduced a bill that would end many of the federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Among others, this includes the federal $300 enhancement that unemployment claimants receive on top of the state’s up-to $370 weekly benefit. Together, the benefits are the equivalent of nearly $17 per hour.
Over the last couple weeks, WMC has called for lawmakers to end these federal benefits because Wisconsinites are being paid not to work at the same time employers are desperate to hire.
“Speaker Vos and Sen. Marklein deserve immense credit for stepping up on this issue while Gov. Evers has ignored pleas from the business community,” added Manley. “There are more than 100,000 job openings in Wisconsin right now. Businesses already have to compete with each other for talent, they should not have to compete with state and federal unemployment benefits at the same time.”
WMC has urged lawmakers to quickly pass the Vos/Marklein bill and for Gov. Tony Evers to sign it.