Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said employers need to ‘stop asking why there is a labor shortage’ and ‘start asking how we can make jobs better’

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Mark Makela/Getty Images

  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said workers demanding better pay and benefits are “not really asking a lot.”

  • Wolf recently signed an executive order aimed at improving labor conditions in the state.

  • Workers need better protections to entice them back to work after the pandemic, he said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said that businesses need to “stop asking why there is a labor shortage” and “start asking how we can make jobs better.”

Wolf told elected officials and labor leaders in Allentown on Thursday that workers were looking for jobs with better working conditions, pay, and benefits, per The Morning Call – and “that’s not really asking a lot.”

The US is suffering from a huge labor shortage because of mismatches between what workers want and what employers are offering.

Some business owners and lawmakers have blamed the labor shortage on workers, saying that “no one wants to work anymore.” Some have attributed it to the supplemental employment benefits introduced during the pandemic, but businesses say they’re still having problems finding staff two months after the benefits were cut off.

“There are so many job openings that people are choosing the best option for their family,” Wolf said Thursday. “It’s time we stop asking why there is a labor shortage and start asking how we can make jobs better.”

Under an executive order Wolf signed on October 21, the state’s labor department will post on its website a list of bad actors that violate labor laws, misclassify their workers, or fail to carry requisite workers’ compensation insurance.

The order also included other clauses related to paid sick leave and compliance with safety standards. Wolf is also seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage.

“It’s time for us to bring worker protections and supports into the 21st century in the United States, and certainly here in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said Thursday, per The Morning Call. “And that’s how we support workers, that’s how we entice them back to work after this pandemic.”

Employment in Pennsylvania was 5.89 million in September, per preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 6.53 million in February 2020. The state’s labor participation rate – the percentage of adults working or actively seeking employment – fell from 60.3% to 57.3% over the same time period.

Businesses across Pennsylvania say they’re struggling to hire. Joseph Devor, who owns Joey’s Chicken Shack near Harrisburg, previously told Insider that he’d had to rely on family members after his workforce fell to just four. Devor raised wages, cut the restaurant’s opening hours, and hiked up menu prices as a result.

People have used the pandemic to evaluate what they want from work, and many have changed industries, opted for roles with more flexible schedules or with fewer hours. Others have returned to education, or taken early retirement.

Workers now have more power in the job market and, as a result, companies have been hiking up wages and offering improved benefits to attract them.

“The American working class is demanding fair pay, paid time off and safe working conditions,” Jennifer Berrier, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said Thursday.

“If we want a robust economy driven by the American worker, we must earn back their confidence and offer more than a meager paycheck,” she added. “And that’s why this isn’t really a labor shortage at all – what we’re actually seeing is a shortage of jobs that afford workers a future out of poverty.”

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

Read the original article on Business Insider

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