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GOP ask Walz to reinstate unemployment work requirements, surrender emergency powers

(The Center Square) – The Minnesota House GOP is asking Gov. Tim Walz to drop his emergency powers under which he waived work requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits.

Four House Republicans allege the state’s boosted $300/week unemployment benefits are persuading Minnesotans to stay home. They say Walz’s Executive Order 20-05 waives work-search requirements encourage workers to collect benefits with no plans to return to work.

“This policy has created an environment where businesses are unable to hire necessary workers and grow our economy. The lucrative nature of these unemployment benefits has also contributed to this problem,” the letter reads.

“If this is not changed, then Minnesota will continue to experience a stunted economic recovery. We have heard from constituent groups and business organizations across our districts that cannot find employees because unemployment benefits continue to be given out with no strings attached.”

Businesses statewide have struggled to find workers, even after adding signing bonuses.

It’s not a skills gap, Minneapolis office manager Alison Barge of Atlas Staffing Inc previously told The Center Square. Most of the jobs are entry-level positions, and some employers are even offering a $3/hour incentive, boosting pay to $17 an hour, flexible scheduling, part-time availability, but people just “don’t want to work.”

Atlas Staffing Inc has 241 open jobs on their site for locations across Minnesota, but Minneapolis office manager Alison Barge says it’s “next to impossible” to fill positions right now.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business (NFIB) reported 42% of owners had job openings that couldn’t be filled, a record high. A net 22% of employers plan to increase employment.

A net 28% of owners reported raising compensation, the highest level in the past 12 months. A net 17% of employers said they plan to raise compensation in the next three months.

As of April 2021, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 4.1%, beating the national average of 6.1%. In March 2020, Minnesota’s employment rate reached 11.3% with almost 350,000 people employed. Now, that number dropped to about 122,000.

The letter was signed by: Republican Reps. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, Cal Bahr of East Bethel, Tim Miller, Prinsburg, and Jeremy Munson of Crystal Lake.

The letter asked Walz to rescind Executive Order 20-05 and relinquish his emergency powers, 14 months after the pandemic began.


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