Business owner points to other barriers amid GOP push to repeal unemployment benefits

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — As businesses begin to open their doors, some Republican lawmakers are pointing to an obstacle that may be standing in the way of getting people hired.

U.S. job growth unexpectedly slowed down last month. Some GOP Congressmen are pushing to repeal unemployment benefits, noting federal boosts in payments may be the source of a growing shortage of people willing to work.

“I still need a few more people, especially as we get busier,” said Kelly Edkin, owner of Juli’s Coffee and Bistro in downtown Topeka.

Edkin said it’s becoming harder to find people to fill orders as more business rolls in.

“If you have fewer people, usually your clients are going to have to wait a little bit longer,” she said, detailing the limitations she’s experienced with lack of workers.

Edkin said while orders have increased, they’ve had to place limits on how many they can fulfill.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall introduced legislation seeking to get rid of the extra $300 boost in federal unemployment payments, saying the payments are making it hard for some businesses to find workers.

“Throughout my travels across Kansas I hear constantly how employers are struggling to find people for open jobs because folks are staying at home due to the rich unemployment benefits and the stimulus checks that Democrats continue to enhance. While there are certainly people that needed access to increased unemployment benefits during the heart of this pandemic, we should not be in the business of creating lucrative government dependency that makes it more beneficial to stay unemployed rather than return to work.” 

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall

However, Edkin said other barriers may be at fault for not being able to get as many people hired. For her, it was hard to figure out which websites or applications to post on with an ever-changing technological landscape.

“I think now there are a lot more options, and you just don’t quite know exactly what the best option is at the time to find the right employee for your business,” Edkin said.

Edkin said her business has survived with help from the community and grants that she’s been able to secure to stay afloat. She said she’s prepared to adapt to keep her business open.

“We just want to do the best we can with what we’ve got,” she said.

While some businesses like Edkin’s have been able to push through the labor shortage, some have had to close down.

Lawmakers have made efforts to address this issue, recently passing legislation to compensate small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

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