Several of Tennessee’s prominent business groups, including the Bristol and Kingsport Chambers of Commerce, issued a statement Tuesday thanking Gov. Bill Lee for addressing the labor shortage crisis by ending the state’s participation in the federal COVID-related unemployment programs that give Tennesseans extra weekly unemployment benefit payments. Tennessee employers have said enhanced unemployment benefits are a major contributor to severe labor shortages across the state – impeding economic recovery and challenging business operations and service to customers.
Beginning July 3, unemployed workers in the state will no longer receive $300 in extra weekly benefits authorized by the federal government through Sept. 6.
The groups below signed the following statement:
“We thank Governor Lee for his prompt action to address an unprecedented labor shortage. Tennessee is open for business, but ‘Help Wanted’ signs are posted across our state.
“Our members continue to report few available workers and repeated skipped interviews for open jobs. The labor shortage is at an all-time high in Tennessee and nationally, according to an NFIB survey. Forty-four percent of small business owners report having job openings they could not fill, 22 points higher than the 48-year historical average and the third consecutive month with a record-breaking reading.
“We understood the need for the initial enhancement of unemployment benefits last year when jobs were scarce and many businesses were closed; however, with continued economic recovery and many available jobs, it’s critical that national and state leaders remove any and all barriers to help achieve full recovery and keep more Tennessee businesses from closing. Despite increasing wages and offering ‘show-up’ bonuses, Tennessee business owners are frustrated in being unable to fill hundreds of thousands of open positions.
“Since last year, thousands of entrepreneurs have lost their businesses in our state, and thousands more are in jeopardy of losing their lifetime investments in their businesses, workers and communities. Governor Lee’s action to exit the federal unemployment program will help many job creators stay afloat.
“We call on leadership in Congress to take immediate actions to get people back to work and continue the post-pandemic recovery that all Tennesseans want to experience.”
Signators of the letter included:
AGC of Tennessee Associated Builders & Contractors of Greater Tennessee Bristol Chamber of Commerce Chattanooga Area Chamber Home Builders Association of Tennessee Hospitality TN Jackson Chamber Kingsport Chamber Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association Tennessee Road Builders Association