In recent months, I have taken countless calls from members large and small who are battling with a crippling shortage of talent. Without doubt, this talent crisis is the primary barrier to our recovery, growth and competitiveness in manufacturing!
If Michigan’s economy is going to fire on all cylinders, we must have policies that will get people back to work. And that is why MMA is calling on policymakers in Lansing to take swift action to help industry address this talent shortage.
While hundreds of thousands of jobs remain unfilled, hundreds of thousands of Michiganders are jobless. Michigan manufacturers are doing their part to attract and retain talent: offering higher wages, signing bonuses, cash incentives to interview and competitive benefit packages. But we cannot compete for talent when people are being paid not to work through enhanced unemployment benefits.
MMA is working together with the broader business community to urge swift action on several proposals to address this crisis, including:
- Terminate the Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefit as quickly as possible by enacting House Bill 4434 (Representative Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond)
The current maximum unemployment insurance (UI) benefit is $662/week (combined state and federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation [PUC]), providing an hourly rate of $16.55. This is the equivalent of $34,424 annually. Expanded federal UI benefits create a strong disincentive for people to return to work.
- Aggressively enforce work search requirements and reinstate work registration requirements
According to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency there were 762,048 active unemployment benefit claimants the week of 6/14/21, while over 200,000 jobs openings were posted! We also know that 45 percent of small businesses have unfilled job openings, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. We know that requiring those who receive UI benefits to actively search for work and accept job offers that are both suitable and with good pay is a critical part of growing the economy and to reducing unemployment.
- Expand Michigan’s Work Share program to allow employers to hire new employees, as well as those who were previously employed by an employer, to qualify for the program
- Fully fund the Going PRO Talent Fund
$39 million was appropriated for the program in January 2020 and it was not enough to fund all employer-submitted applications. The Executive Budget recommendation for $43 million in fiscal year 2021-2022 is much better aligned with existing employer demand.
- Allocate available federal funds to help provide access to affordable childcare, housing, transportation and to break down other barriers to employment
The time is now for Michigan to take swift action so that manufacturers will be competitive with other states and in the global economic arena. Helping workers find the security of a job with benefits will provide families the confidence needed to move forward and will help the Great Lakes State win the race to competitiveness.