Worker shortage impact on Michiana

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Some feel it may be time to step away from steps taken to ease the impact of the pandemic on the unemployed.

In Indiana, the first thing that will be undone is a waiver of a requirement that benefit recipients prove they are actively looking for work.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb this week issued an executive order that reinstates the job search reporting requirement in June.

Recipients can prove they’re actively seeking employment by filling out job applications, attending, jobs fairs, or by completing online workshops.

At Juday Creek Golf Course in Granger, the golfers are right and left-handed, while the course owners are short-handed.

“”This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said General Manager Michelle Wittig. “In a busy year we might have nearly 100 employees, you know, with the banquets, and golf outings, things, and I think right now we only have about 20.”

And they’re not alone. The course owner is also a state senator who has heard a steady stream of complaints from constituents.

“Restaurants are saying, ‘I can’t be open the number of days I want, I’ve got to conserve the employees I do have,’” Sen. Linda Roger, (R) Granger told 16 NewsNow.

Indiana had a pre-pandemic worker shortage back in February of 2020 when the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent. The rate now stands at 3.9 percent and Governor Eric Holcomb wants to further study the option of ending Indiana’s participation in a federal program that provides $300 additional dollars per week in benefits.

“Well there’s always a time of place for everything and certainly early on when people, really through no fault of their own, couldn’t go to work. And so, maybe early on. The problems is when its extended for a specific amount of time,” Rogers added. “It’s hard to bring people back to work when they can rely on these benefits.”

Like Rogers, Ind. Sen. David Niezgodski, (D) South Bend also sits on the Indiana State Senate labor committee. “I think anytime you talk about fraud, waste, or abuse, I think we have found that those numbers are extremely low.,” Niezgodski said. “I don’t think it’s time to cut off the $300.”

Senator Niezgodski believes Indiana’s unemployment benefits are too low to begin with, and that efforts should be made to extend the federal supplement or raise the state benefits.

The federally enhanced benefits are scheduled to be paid through Labor Day, although at least 11 states have already decided to end their participation in the program in June.

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