17 organizations send letter to Ky. gov., asking him to keep unemployment insurance benefits

They cite ongoing worker shortage
Worker shortage continues amidst businesses asking Gov. Andy Beshear to continue providing...
Worker shortage continues amidst businesses asking Gov. Andy Beshear to continue providing unemployment benefits.
Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) - Kentuckians seeking unemployment must now prove they are actively searching for a job to continue receiving benefits, and that comes as employers themselves are dealing with workforce shortages.

For weeks, now hiring signs have dotted storefronts and busy streets. Fast-food chains are offering higher wages and sign-on bonuses.

“Staffing is 100 percent the hardest part. We cannot get anyone. We’ve had signs. We put on Indeed. We put on social media. It’s just people aren’t even coming into the application. If I do call them, like on Indeed, they don’t even show up for interviews,” said Jenny Castro, general manager at Wings Etc.

The Ashland Area Labor Council, which represents steelworkers, laborers, and health care workers, say some are still facing layoffs. It’s part of the reason they were among one of 17 organizations that sent a letter to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, asking him to continue providing the additional $300 a week for unemployment insurance benefits.

“The local pipefitters in Ashland have 90 members off in unemployment. There are probably 30 to 40 steelworkers in the Ashland area,” said Chad Conley, president of the Ashland Area Labor Council. ”[The economy] is starting to boom a little bit, and they are higher wage-paying jobs available, but everything has not come back yet. We need to watch out for those jobs that haven’t and make sure they can do the things they have always done and take care of their families.”

Beshear says he isn’t ready to take the benefits away, and the work shortage issue will fix itself in the coming months.

“The workforce is coming back. We’ve got to understand that if our economy is roaring that the entire workforce isn’t going to come back in that period. We have to thread the needle with some of these extended payments we have. They’re adding about $34 million to our economy every week,” Beshear said. “We have to make sure we aren’t making a rash decision and makes sure the economy has a full recovery.”

To view the full letter, click here.

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