Following a series of disappointing jobs reports and several tax hikes being mulled on Capitol Hill, the National Grocers Association joined several efforts to urge the Biden administration to address the labor shortage and pursue policies that promote, not harm, job growth.
Economists had expected hiring to ramp up this year as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, but so far jobs data has painted a less than rosy picture of the labor market. Hiring was a huge letdown in April, with payrolls increasing by 278,000 as opposed to the 1 million new jobs analysts had expected amid signs that the economy was coming back to life. Hiring in May also was below estimates. These lackluster numbers are prompting calls to fix America’s broken unemployment insurance (UI) benefits system to promote job creation.
The jobs data is no shock to grocers who have been pressing for a fix to the broken benefits system that disincentivizes hiring and harms their businesses. For several months, NGA members have said that the federal UI bonus is keeping individuals out of the job market, leading to a devastating labor shortage.
Congress implemented a weekly bonus on top of what states’ pay in unemployment benefits to ameliorate the effects of pandemic-related layoffs. Last year, as part of the CARES Act, those receiving unemployment were eligible for an additional $600 weekly until the end of July 2020. Weekly bonuses started again after an additional relief package was passed in December, but for half the amount – $300 – which will be paid out to jobless workers until September.
Last month, NGA sent a letter to the White House, the Department of Labor, governors and other top officials urging them to resolve the ongoing labor shortage. NGA members continue to urge Congress, governors and the Biden administration to focus their efforts on fixing the broken unemployment insurance program to ensure the system does not discourage recipients from finding work.
So far, several governors have listened to our concerns. At least 25 states have announced they will end the $300 weekly bonus to ease the labor shortage and calls are growing for others to follow suit.
NGA has also joined more than 30 trade associations in announcing the launch of a new coalition to oppose proposed tax increases. America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery is a coalition of associations representing individual and family-owned businesses and corporations that oppose job-killing tax increases as the country looks to move past the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration recently proposed hiking several taxes, including on individuals, businesses and capital gains.
“Independent community grocers have worked hard to stay open and safely serve their customers throughout this pandemic,” said NGA Director of Government Relations Robert Yeakel said. “As an industry that already pays a substantial effective tax rate, these tax hike proposals could have a very real impact on our members’ ability to grow and continue to provide Main Street jobs.”
Ultimately, Congress is in for a busy summer and NGA’s Government Relations team will continue pounding the pavement to advocate on behalf of our members and the independent grocery industry.
Our work in Washington, D.C., is amplified by the support we receive from you. To maximize our efforts, please consider making a commitment to our Advocacy & Legal Fund and getting involved in our various grassroots campaigns at NGA’s Grocers Take Action Center.