Many states are beginning to cut additional unemployment benefits that were provided due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, employers are still struggling to find labor at their currently offered wage.
The United Labor Agency (ULA) works to train people and connect them with meaningful employment. ULA Executive Director Dave Megenhardt joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss how they have helped workers with employment over the past year and more.
Removing additional unemployment benefits
Megenhardt acknowledged that states are beginning to reject additional unemployment benefits. He said that it is telling that people would rather sit at home instead of doing back breaking work for little compensation and believes it is time employers look at their wages if they want quality labor.
A common belief is that people remaining on unemployment are lazy. However, many Americans were waiting to see if their old job would return, others had to deal with childcare issues, remote learning and more. Megenhardt said everyone has faced unique challenges and are in varying situations.
Employers have noted a difficulty hiring workers. Many employers believed they were in control during a time of high unemployment. Now, they are confused as to why people do not want to work for the same wages and minimal benefits they were offering.
Megenhardt provided an anecdote of one job seeker who said her first paid day off was when she began collecting unemployment. This has led many to demand more pay and benefits for their labor.
Connecting jobseekers with the right employment
While there’s still unemployment, the ULA is working to connect people to employment that matches their skills and interests. Despite the pandemic, the ULA managed to train a record number of individuals.
These newly trained people are seeking work where it is plentiful and where they are respected. There has been an increased respect for healthcare workers since the beginning of the pandemic, leading many into that field. They have also gravitated towards manufacturing and transportation work.
Finally, Megenhardt explained how an unemployed person can ease back into the job market. The key is not to wait, but not to rush. He suggested treating the job search as if it is your full time job.