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Businesses suffer competing with unemployment benefits

Those eligible for unemployment are making just over 500 dollars a week, that is close to 15 dollars an hour.
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Google trends puts Alabama in the top five for highest search interest regarding “unemployment.” The state sitting at number five with an 82% search interest.

Several businesses around town are being forced to partially close. Not because of COVID-19 like this time last year, but because there simply are not enough employees.

“Now hiring” signs can be seen all over and it’s turned into a serious problem. Personnel Resources is trying to help, but said there is no easy fix.

“We probably have a record number of openings now,” Wesley Crowley, Personnel Resources Sales, said.

The probable record number Crowley is referring to is about 400. He said people right now are not willing to give up their unemployment benefits.

“It’s because they are making $13-$14 and some change to sit at home, rather than to go out and get a job that pays 10 or 12 dollars and hour,” Crowley said.

Businesses who are competing with these benefits are struggling.

“People in service industries are dying and bleeding right now for help,” Crowley said. “It’s really really a shame that we are paying people more to do nothing than to get out and be productive in society and it’s hurting us all as a whole.”

Senator Tommy Tuberville agrees.

“Everyday, I get calls from people in Alabama that’s closed their business down,” Sen. Tuberville said. “They can’t find anybody to work now, nobody will work. They are sitting at home, collecting their checks, and we’re going down a path that America has never gone down before.”

Those eligible for unemployment are making just over 500 dollars a week, that is close to 15 dollars an hour.

“The unemployment benefits that have been added from the federal level have increased the money for these jobs,” Kelly Betts Public Information Officer Alabama Department of Labor, said. “Obviously, that is a factor, you know, local employers can’t really compete with the federal government to pay their employees.”

Betts said entry level workers will be put in a tough spot come September when the benefits dry out.

“We are just really hoping that they just see that the unemployment benefits are a short term solution for them and that hopefully we can get everybody back to work,” Betts said.

Alabama’s unemployment march preliminary rate is 3.8 percent. Locally, Houston County has the highest unemployment at 3.4 percent while Geneva County is the lowest with 2.5 percent.

But how does the issue locally compare to the rest of the state?

“This is happening all over the state, so Dothan is not alone by any means,” Betts said.

When it comes to the best solution?

“I would rather see people that are able bodied and able to work, work,” Crowley said. “I just think that’s best for everyone, it’s going to be a hard habit to break once the unemployment does give out and the gravy train will end one day and once it ends, it’s going to be really really hard, especially for younger people, to get back in the groove of getting up, and going to work and being productive.”

Jobs are available and Crowley said there may be consequences for those taking advantage..

“The issue with that and when this job issue turns around and employers starts to look at someone’s job history, they’re going to have to explain why they were on unemployment for such a period of time when there were jobs available,” Crowley said.

News 4 will be bringing you a closer look at business here in the Wiregrass looking to hire every day this week.

Click here to view opening from personnel resources.

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