Employer blames extra jobless benefits for worker shortage

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 3:52 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Unless Congress acts, the supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week are set to expire July 31.

While the money is helping millions of Americans who are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, some local businesses say it’s also creating a disincentive to work.

At Alaska Snowmobile Salvage, business has been non-stop as more Alaskans are playing outside.

“It’s really tough, people come in and I tell them right from the get-go we’re four to six weeks out,” Todd Anderson, owner of Alaska Snowmobile Salvage said.

He said it’s been their busiest summer but also the most understaffed. It’s working through more than 100 work orders, and is short two mechanics.

“I have never experienced anything like this, I feel extremely blessed to have the amount of work we have but at the same time feel really cursed for not being able to find some help to do it,” Anderson said.

He’s convinved the $600 boost that unemployed Americans are receiving has created a disincentive for some employees to return to work.

“I’m not the only one fighting that battle, I’ve talked to other business owners and they are in the same boat, they just can’t find help, nobody wants to work, they don’t need to, they all want to go play, and I don’t blame them,” he said.

He’s hoping things will change once the benefit goes away.

“I really am hoping I get the pick of the litter then because all these people are going to be not making all this money, and they’re going to be looking for a job,” he added.

Until then, he’s hiring.

“I’m just one man and I need some help.”

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