Employers across the state are struggling to find workers. According to Jackie Turner at the Dept. of Employment Security, there are around 50-thousand job openings in various industries, yet 75-thousand residents are drawing unemployment.
“We hear from employers every day, legislators saying what can we do? Companies need workers,” Turner told us. Since March of last year, roughly $3.9-billion in federal and state unemployment benefits have been paid out, with the majority of that money coming from the federal government. $600-million came from a trust fund employers in Mississippi pay into. It’s a fund that would have gone bankrupt without an infusion from the state legislature.
Some–like Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson–blame federal unemployment policies that make it more profitable for some people NOT to work. He even wrote an op-ed piece lamenting the threat to commerce, supply and distribution chains if workers don’t start filling open positions.
Gipson laid out his concerns: If Americans in all 50 states are not soon motivated to return to work, and if the incentives NOT to work are not removed, we could see the temporary shortages of the COVID Spring of 2020 repeat themselves in construction, manufacturing and transportation, as well as food production, processing and distribution at grocery stores, restaurants and ultimately, at our dinner tables.
To hear more of our conversation with Jackie Turner, click the video: