As I travel through the great northwest part of our state, I hear a familiar theme from employers. Throughout most of this year, they have been telling me how desperate they are for employees. Some of those business owners who had to either close or reduce hours last year now have to keep business hours shorter than they prefer, simply because they do not have enough people working to keep the front door open from 8 to 5.
This has become all too familiar to employers throughout Missouri. How many businesses have you seen offer sign-up bonuses, just for starting to work there? Employers are offering more incentives than ever before, and still do not have enough employees.
During the coronavirus pandemic last year, we heard several debates over how long unemployment benefits should be allowed to continue, with proponents arguing these extra dollars stimulate local economies and opponents saying cutting these benefits will entice people to return to the workplace.
As someone who prefers smaller government, I believe the better option is to reform the entire premise of unemployment benefits, so that these dollars deliver maximum benefit to everyone involved. We should have a thorough system that takes into account every circumstance, and not just throw money at something. If we are going to use taxpayer dollars, then we must be 100 percent certain what we are doing with this money is the best solution. Also, in this case, we must make sure it is only a temporary solution. Unemployment is meant to be a short-term stop-gap, not a career.
I am sure my colleagues and I will be working toward this goal during next year’s legislative session. In the meantime, I will continue to reach out to our small business owners — and everyone — in the 12th Senatorial District for feedback on all of the critical issues facing our community. It is always great to get the pulse of our state from the people who make it work.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
Dan Hegeman is the 12th District State Senator.