New Jersey businesses face 'unprecedented hiring crisis,' industry leaders say

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Business owners in New Jersey are sounding the alarm as they say they are being forced to shut down again -- but not because of the coronavirus.

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association says companies are facing an unprecedented hiring crisis.

The organization says businesses being reopened at 100% means nothing if they don't have the staffing needed to run their operation.

NJBIA says there are three key reasons employers are struggling to find workers.

They say reasons include childcare limitations and the federal unemployment supplement.

The organization says extra money makes it more attractive for some people to stay home.

Lastly, business owners say the competition for workers is greater than ever before and it is driving up the pay rates.

They say solutions need to be found soon.

On Tuesday, Jersey Shore businesses and tourism agencies hosted a press conference to sound the alarm to potential workers, Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers.
"The purpose of this event is to underscore the impacts our hiring shortage is having on our businesses, particularly during the tourism season, and to advance steps to problem solve," NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka said. "New Jersey needs to proactively salvage what is left of this tourism season and to improve the hiring picture beyond. This event will establish what is at stake for our small businesses and our economy - and the need for action now."

Those who were at the press conference defined the crisis clearly.

"A motel owner told me with tears in her eyes that she lost her only maid which meant cleaning the rooms and doing laundry herself," said Vicki Clark, president of the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association.

They say the hardest hit industries are those more mentally challenging like elder care, hospitality and child care.

The business owners would like to see an incentive program that pays people an extra bonus or benefits to go back to work -- a counter to that extra $300 many are getting per week in unemployment benefits.

They are worried about August when college and high school kids and teachers have to quit the summer jobs, leaving them with even fewer workers for what is turning out to be a robust season of visitors post-COVID.

Tens of thousands of season jobs are currently available.

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