Kansas governor talks workforce shortage with business leaders

Unemployment Situation

FILE – In this April 15, 2020 file photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic from the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a news release late Saturday, April 25, 2020 she has reached a deal that could resolve a legal challenge to her order banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Kelly said that under the agreement, the two churches that challenged her order agreed to extend a judge’s temporary restraining order preventing enforcement of Kelly’s ban. The churches, meanwhile, agreed to continue complying with social-distancing guidelines, including making sure worshippers keep a safe distance from one another. (AP Photo/John Hanna File)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discussed “low wages, socially-regressive policies, health care and childcare” with state business leaders meeting about a workforce shortage on Tuesday.

“Since the start of the pandemic, I have asked for data and input from experts and stakeholders before making significant policy decisions. Today’s discussion is the first of several I will hold to determine the best course of action – for businesses and for families – to reduce our state’s workforce shortages. I remain committed to supporting our businesses and workers to rebuild a healthier, stronger economy following COVID-19.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

Two points the governor made in the meeting with the businesses included:

  • Kansas’ April 2021 unemployment rate was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels at 3.5%.
  • 34,000 Kansans are currently receiving unemployment benefits boosted by federal aid in Kansas, but there are 57,000 job openings. There would still be job vacancies even if all of the unemployment recipients immediately entered the workforce.

The meeting came after a coalition of businesses asked Kelly to cut off federal supplements to unemployment payments to Kansans, in order to get them to go back to work. The group proposed instead creating a government-funded sign-on bonus for Kansans who become employed. Many businesses in Kansas are complaining that they can’t fill job openings.

Kelly previously said she would not halt the federal unemployment bonus like other states, but that she has not made a “final decision” about the payment bumps.

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