Sen. Cassidy says federal enhanced unemployment benefit needs to go
PORT ALLEN - On a breezy day on the west side of the river, Sen. Bill Cassidy visited with Deloach Marine Services. The Senator met with the owner to learn about the difficulties he is having when it comes to hiring people to work.
"We should be coming out of the pandemic but you speak to employers and they're having a hard time getting employees," said Cassidy.
For months, people receiving unemployment benefits have also been receiving a $300 federal enhanced unemployment benefit, which was signed into law by President Biden under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Cassidy says some people receiving these benefits are making more money than they would if they were working.
"We need to get the federal government out of the way, put people on a ladder of success, not a ladder of setting aside a portion of their life," he said.
Restaurants have especially been feeling the heat. Some are short-staffed, others have to change their hours to accommodate the employees they do have.
At the shipyard in Port Allen, Cassidy says opportunities await. The business owner told him there is an opportunity for quick advancement with a starting salary of $28,000, in three years people can be making six figures.
"But if they never start that entry-level job you never make that progress," said Cassidy.
Cassidy says the federal unemployment supplement started because jobs were scarce. Now, some employers are scrambling to fill positions.
"There are enough jobs now and we're having to borrow that money to pay these benefits," he said. "I think it would be wise for the state to roll back those dollars to allow people to take the jobs that are out there and to begin that ladder of success.
At least 20 states have decided to lift those benefits this summer, prior to its Sept. 6 expiration date.
Last month, Governor John Bel Edwards says he has heard from a number of businesses who have requested that he lift the federal benefits early, but he has not made the decision to do so.
"I'm reluctant to prematurely lift those enhanced federal unemployment benefits especially if we don't have the benefit of a study that is particular to Louisiana to inform that decision," he said.
Governor Edwards said many people in the state depend on jobs related to tourism and tourism has not returned. He said that until tourism is back their jobs are not going to be back.