WACO, Texas – The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce is one of 39 business organizations statewide that penned a letter to Governor Greg Abbott last week to urge him to opt out of federal unemployment checks that started last year due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“The letter essentially said that we have a problem. We have a challenge right now in the state of Texas,” Chamber President and CEO Matt Meadors said. “We have businesses that are trying to reopen. We have businesses that are trying to meet demand. But we can not find workers.”
Meadors says businesses have struggled to hire workers because people can earn almost as much without working and collecting unemployment benefits than they can working an entry level job.
“We find ourselves in a position now where the private, for-profit sector or the business community is now de-facto competing with the federal government for workers,” Meadors said.
With Governor Abbott approving the opt-out this week, the Texas Workforce Commission has been working to help Texans utilize their resources.
“Workforce development boards across Texas are sponsoring job fairs, virtually and in-person, to help connect job seekers with employment opportunities,” Cisco Gamez said in a Facebook Live broadcast after the governor’s announcement.
The Greater Waco Chamber says they supported all the federal aids when the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down businesses last year – but now that the state is open, they are encouraging people to go back to work.
“We were having conversations about what we need to do as an organization to encourage federal and state action to support our businesses, and to support our fellow citizens, and to support the workers,” Meadors said. “That was then, and this is now. And it’s a completely different world right now, thank God.”
The benefits are set to end the week of June 26.