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Kemp, labor department discussing changes to federal pandemic unemployment programs

'The Governor and Commissioner both agreed changes are needed in order to support employers who continue to see worker shortages.'

ATLANTA — Changes could come soon to the federal pandemic unemployment programs in Georgia.

According to a spokesperson from Gov. Brian Kemp's Office, Kemp and the Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler met Monday to discuss possible changes for the programs in the state.

"The Governor and Commissioner both agreed changes are needed in order to support employers who continue to see worker shortages," said Mallory Blount of the governor's office. "We expect final decisions on timing and other specifics in the coming days."

The governor's office didn't comment further on what those changes may be.

However, some employers nationwide have had difficulty staffing their businesses as COVID-19 restrictions loosen to allow more people to populate in spaces. 

The Associated Press reported that the economy is rebounding faster than almost anyone thought it would, with many companies being caught flat-footed as consumer demand surges. Workers themselves can now be added to the list of shortages. Companies are advertising more jobs than they were before the pandemic.

According to the Associated Press, a government survey showed some workers, last year, feared becoming infected by the virus and avoided looking for work, 

Some also say the weekly added federal unemployment benefits gave some workers more income than they would have received working their jobs. 

RELATED: Why are restaurants struggling to find employees?

One example of businesses experiencing worker shortages is the restaurant industry. Now that COVID restrictions are loosening, there are restaurants that can’t fully open due to staffing shortages.

“It did frighten some workers who said, 'Oh my gosh, look how quickly they closed and how quickly they were affected by this,'” Karen Bremer of the Georgia Restaurant Association told 11Alive previously.

11Alive reported last week that in Georgia, the shortage is about 15%. Some businesses are offering huge incentives to lure employees.

An op-ed published Monday on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's website mentions how some businesses can't find labor so they are starting to turn down orders and raise prices.

"Many restaurants are only offering drive-through, pick-up service, not because of COVID, but because they cannot find enough workers to support full-scale operations," the op-ed reads. 

See the full op-ed here.


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