BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)- The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is adopting a new policy to call on state leaders to end federal unemployment before the expiration date in September.
BRAC argues ending the unemployment funds will push people back to the workforce.
According to BRAC, data shows that there are more job openings in the state than unemployed residents.
“The federal unemployment enhancement made sense when government mandated business shutdowns that left hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents without the opportunity to work. Since virtually all COVID restrictions have now been lifted, and there is incredible demand for labor, there’s diminishing justification for continuing a program that disincentivizes residents from seeking employment,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, BRAC’s senior director of business intelligence. “The weekly payment, combined with state unemployment assistance, is currently the equivalent of almost $14 per hour, which is nearly median individual income in the state. In other words, one can be in the middle of the pack in terms of earnings by not working.”
BRAC is providing the following data:
- While there are 24,000 unemployed residents in the Capital Region, there are more than 30,000 job openings, with thousands requiring no experience and only a high school degree or GED;
- The state has a similar excess of job openings, with 160,000 openings and only 150,000 unemployed residents. The majority of these openings require no education above a high school degree and little to no experience;
- Despite COVID business restrictions largely ending in late March and early April, unemployment in the Capital Region remained flat at 5.8% over-the-month, a full 2.0% higher than the pre-pandemic rate;
- Both Louisiana and the Baton Rouge metro area have unemployment rates higher than the national average of 5.7%;
- With the federal enhancement, Louisiana residents receive $547 weekly through unemployment, while median individual income in the state is $556 weekly, providing a disincentive to return to a number of jobs in restaurants, bars, retail, and other sectors hit hard by the pandemic.
Edwards says he is not ready to end federal unemployment funds while tourism is not fully back in the state and child care is still unavailable.
After looking over data Edwards hopes to make a decision on continuing federal unemployment funds in the next coming weeks.
Davante Lewis with the Louisiana Budget Project works on behalf of those receiving unemployment benefits. he says people would return to work if they had childcare, higher wages and better work conditions.
“There is a global pandemic that was happening in this nation of poverty,” Lewis said.” So many people are trying to force people into low-paying jobs but not provide them with the necessities that they are guaranteed in their jobs.”
Information on job opportunities in Baton Rouge area is available here.