As economic trends point to a nationwide labor shortage, North Carolina job creators across multiple industries have reported their acute struggles to find willing, qualified talent during this unique rebalancing period for our economy. The NC Chamber team has been working hard along with others in the business community to engage with state leaders and urge them to take decisive action to solve this talent gap. We have been adamant in these discussions that businesses need solutions now, not months from now.
Last Thursday, we signaled our support for Senate Bill 116, a day after the House Finance Committee amended the bill to include a set of measures aimed at addressing our talent shortage. Chief among these is a measure that would, within 30 days of enactment, end North Carolina’s participation in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits. Many economists have pointed to states’ continuing reliance on these benefits as a likely factor delaying a return to work for some claimants in state unemployment insurance (UI) systems. The bill also seeks to mitigate COVID-related disruptions to the childcare industry by allocating $250 million to enhance childcare programs in the state, easing costs and complications for parents seeking jobs. Shortly after we signaled our support, the N.C. House passed the bill with bipartisan approval. With Senate Bill 116 now back in the Senate to be considered in its amended form, we hope – and expect – to see senators give the bill’s measures the same priority treatment they received in the House.
We also recently put our support behind another bill that underwent a pro-jobs, pro-workforce revamp of late: House Bill 334. In late May, the Senate Finance Committee inserted a set of reform measures into the bill aimed at strengthening our business tax climate. Among these is a measure establishing a new $1 billion business grant program to assist job creators who accepted loans to retain their workforce during the pandemic and ensure they can continue receiving assistance to support a strong workforce. We expect the bill to pass the Senate soon, and we are optimistic that the House and Senate will also soon begin negotiations on a comprehensive business relief package.
Our support for Senate Bill 116 and House Bill 334 is emblematic of our commitment to championing good-faith efforts in both the House and Senate that seek a meaningful resolution to the talent crisis. If solving our state’s acute workforce challenges matters to you, we urge you to contact your legislators and tell them that a vote in favor of Senate Bill 116 or House Bill 334 is a vote to reenergize our workforce, secure an effective economic relaunch, and grow more high-quality jobs to support more North Carolina families.