Expert: reduced unemployment benefits won’t factor into staffing shortages

A UT expert says the ending of Tennessee’s COVID-19 unemployment benefits will not factor into staffing shortages.
Extra pandemic unemployment benefits end in Tennessee, expert weighs in on if that will help fill jobs around the state.
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 10:46 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On July 3rd, pandemic unemployment benefits offering an extra $300 a week to those who applied ended. One economy expert says you shouldn’t expect that to factor into an uptick in jobs.

Don Bruce is a professor at the University of Tennessee, and says that right now there are about 165,000 Tennesseans on unemployment, but only a third of them were a part of the pandemic unemployment benefits. This is why he believes there won’t be a massive change, and this shift in policy instead is more of a statement that Tennessee is open for business.

While Bruce feels this way, management at S & S Cafeteria, a Knoxville restaurant, feels different. They say that they felt people were comfortable collecting that $300 a week check and not working saying that now “the gravy train is over.” Management says they’re in need of filling ten positions, and it’s not uncommon for some employees to work up to 60 hours a week due to the shortage in staffing.

Bruce says another reason you may not see people jumping into any job openings they see is because in the past year he believes people have reevaluated their career choices and work preferences.

The UTK professor says unemployment is now at a steady and relatively low 5%.

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