Jacobs wants to end extra unemployment benefits

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2021 at 5:32 pm

Congressman says policies discourage people to pursue work during time of labor shortage

Photos by Tom Rivers: Congressman Chris Jacobs speaks during last Friday’s Legislative Luncheon at Tillman’s Village Inn. The event was organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. Just right of Jacobs seated include other speakers: Chris Zeltman, representing U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

ALBION – One way to help fill the labor shortage locally and across the state and country is to end the extra benefit allotment for people claiming unemployment, Congressman Chris Jacobs said.

He is urging New York state officials to not extend the $300 weekly in federal unemployment assistance.

Local state legislators – State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley – said they would support ending the extra unemployment assistance.

They all spoke about the issue during Friday’s Legislative Luncheon organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

Many local businesses have struggled to fill job openings. So far 26 states have decided to opt out of the extra benefit before the official end date of Sept. 6.

Patricia Payne, a board member for the P.Raising Kids Child Care Center in Medina, urged the local, state and federal officials to help solve a childcare crisis locally, where she said there are too few slots for people to work or go to college full time.

Hawley said restaurants, in particular, “are closing left and right” due to staffing shortages. He said the government should stop sending people checks “to sit on their derriere.”

Ortt said he is concerned the Democrat-majority in the State Legislature will continue the extra unemployment benefit at a time “when people can’t find people to work.”

Jacobs on Monday held a press conference with Jim Butera, president of the WNY Chapter of the NYS Restaurant Association and owner of Butera’s Craft Beer and Craft Pizza, to discuss the labor shortage caused in part by enhanced unemployment benefits.

“In February, against numerous warnings, Democrats and President Biden forced through a massive partisan package filled with unnecessary spending,” Jacobs said in a news release. “The result is they have made it more lucrative to stay home than to seek employment,” Jacobs said. “This has become detrimental to our economic recovery, and many businesses are losing money, shortening hours, or closing down entirely because they cannot find employees. Unfortunately, this translates to longer wait times, higher prices, and shortages of numerous products families need.”

Jacobs introduced the Help Wanted Act (H.R. 3148) in May to combat these disincentives and prioritize our economic recovery. The legislation would restore work search requirements, remove the expansion of unemployment to individuals who voluntarily left their job, and clarify that general safety concerns related to Covid-19 are no longer sufficient grounds to claim unemployment benefits.

During Friday’s Legislative Luncheon at Tillman’s Village Inn, Patricia Payne, a board member for the P.Raising Kids Child Care Center in Medina, said a child care shortage locally is a factor preventing many people from going to work or college full time.

She said there needs to be higher reimbursement rates from the Department of Social Service for child care providers, and there also need to be more childcare slots, whether through at-home daycare or at childcare centers.

“We are in a childcare desert area,” Payne said during the luncheon.

Jacobs said more childcare options “need to be part of the economic development model.”