Coronavirus, Featured, Governor Polis, Sherrie Peif

Employers urge Governor Polis to end supplemental unemployment benefits early

LOVELAND —  A group of Northern Colorado business owners have joined a growing chorus across Colorado in calling for an early end to the extra unemployment benefits being funded by the federal government.

The supplemental benefits, which are not set to expire until September, are making it hard on employers who cannot get people to return to work now that most businesses are able to open and operate at full capacity.

According to a news release that sent out by Pete Gazley, President of Total Facility Care, hundreds of businesses have signed on to ask Gov. Jared Polis to end the program early that sends an extra $300 a week to those drawing unemployment.

The release states that the “Colorado Restaurant Association reported 90 percent of its restaurants around the state are facing shortages, and many Northern Colorado businesses have as many as 25 percent of their positions open that they are actively trying to fill.”

“Our economy is booming in Colorado, but our small businesses are constrained by the lack of available workers,” Gazley said in the release. “…There are more jobs than workers, so removing this would incentivize people to get back into the workforce. As the state has opened, we believe it is safe to return to work.”

Yvonne Myers, Health Systems Director of Columbine Health Systems, also signed onto the letter asking for a reprieve to a job market that is full of vacancies.

“We are in a new place in our economy, and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure we are getting people back to work,” Myers said in the release. “In healthcare, if we don’t have the strong workforce to serve our patients and clients, then we all suffer.  We know we are still learning as we come out of the pandemic, but the most important thing to ensure we all continue to thrive is by getting people back to work and filling the thousands of open positions in Northern Colorado”.

The group is not the first to ask the governor to stop the payments.

Mesa County Commissioners as well as members of Colorado’s Republican congressional delegation have also called on Polis to halt the payments.

“Recent evidence has shown that this benefit in incentivizing workers to stay home and out of the workforce,” wrote Representatives Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Lauren Boebert in a June 10 letter to Polis.  The trio point to a Colorado Restaurant Association poll showing many eateries unable to hire enough staff for the summer season, with 65 percent of restaurateurs surveyed pointing to expanded unemployment benefits as the culprit.

However, as reported by the Gazette, Governor Polis flatly rejected the delegation’s request, saying the supplemental payments are both stimulating the economy and helping businesses emerge from the pandemic.

“We realize removing benefits will be controversial to some, but the dignity of work is important as well,” the latest letter states in part. “… One business that tracks hiring data was attracting 25 to 30 viable candidates per week from October to February. After the most recent stimulus checks in March, candidate interest dropped to under 7 per week. This business has 30 openings and is considering letting clients go to be able to adequately serve the rest.”

It goes on to say that it has become common practice for restaurants to close early or close for an entire day every week, and landscaping and contractors are months out due in part to the lack of workforce.

“You’d be hard pressed to drive down any street and find very many businesses that are not hiring,” the letter says. “Colorado is open for business and growing. We just need our workforce back!”




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