Writer: Felipe Rivas
2 min read June 2021- Measures such as the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits have been critical aid for embattled workers and businesses since the onset of COVID-19. However, those same benefits are now likely encouraging many to remain on the employment sidelines, hindering companies that need staff for the recovery. Recently announced rollbacks are likely to change that.
President Joe Biden’s implementation of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that extended weekly $300 unemployment checks through Sept. 6, was among his first orders of business coming into office in January. Well into Q2 of 2021, state and local governments are beginning to rollback those benefits to influence the workforce back into active jobs prospecting. By the end of May, dozens of states had announced plans to end enhanced weekly unemployment benefits between June and July. Critical shortages of local labor pools are among the main factors behind the decisions.
“Many Americans are able to stay home in a COVID-free environment and in some cases receive more money in benefits than their previous employment,” CSI International, a facility services company, CEO David Hammond told Invest:. With janitorial services and building management operations across 18 states and employing over 2,500 workers, Hammond is among those employers navigating the impacts of COVID on the workforce. “There is an overall shortage of labor. In some markets, employers are bidding against each other to hire employees,” he said.
For CSI International, Florida has been among the most challenging markets in terms of hiring. “We are experiencing labor shortages across the state,” Hammond said. As such, news of the recent rollback of the state’s enhanced benefits are expected to improve hiring challenges and reflect the overall health of the state’s economy. The Department of Economic Opportunity announced last week the state would stop participating in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program starting the week of June 27. “With Governor DeSantis stopping the extra $300 a month on June 23, we are hopeful this will help get employees back to work,” Hammond said.
Florida has gained nearly 800,000 private-sector jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are more than 450,000 online job postings throughout the state, the Department of Economic Opportunity reported. “Florida businesses and employers are hiring across the state and need unemployed Floridians to return to the workforce,” the department said in a press release.
CSI International is one of the employers relying on robust workforce participation, especially as businesses increasingly begin returning to the office on a more consistent basis, thus increasing demand for cleaning and sanitation services. “Many client partners are increasing their cleaning frequencies to include manual disinfection of all touch points as part of the base contract. We are seeing more clients shift tasks from the night to the day staff to allow the key touch points to be cleaned more frequently throughout the day,” Hammond said.
Moving forward, CSI International will need to closely monitor its hiring practices to account for a rise in demand for the company’s services. “Our management will need to hire additional team members for the increase in services, especially during the day, which would be more full-time labor and more healthcare benefits for these positions,” Hammond said.
At this point, the rollback of unemployment benefits seems to be the right call as the economy recovers from the unprecedented COVID-19 impact on the national economy. “Some states like Florida are on the right track,” Hammond said.
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