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WCNC talks to labor secretary about the workforce shortage

Are the federal benefits hurting the workforce? Many businesses say they can't find workers. True? DOL Secretary says no.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The unemployment rate is still 6.1%. If you search "jobs Charlotte" on google, you’ll get some interesting results.

Zip recruiter is listing 74,173 open jobs just for this area. Two states, South Carolina and Montana have already ended federal subsidies known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr have asked Governor Roy Cooper to end North Carolina’s participation in the program. 

It’s a big problem, too many people admit to making more money staying home than by going back to work. So what’s the solution to get people working? More incentives? Or ending more benefits?

RELATED: US jobless claims fall to 406,000, a new pandemic low

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At the height of the pandemic, millions were out of work amid stay-at-home orders in all 50 states. Industries shut down and government reared up. Tens of billions were paid out as the unemployment rate skyrocketed to over 14% last year. State unemployment benefits were extended, and federal benefits were added on top of state benefits as the future became uncertain.

Now in 2021, mask mandates are being lifted, almost half the adult population here in the United States has at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the world has largely reopened. So how does the Biden administration get people back to work?  WCNC’s Bill McGinty spoke with U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh about it this afternoon.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

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McGinty asked if the extra federal benefits were keeping people at home. 

“This is the first time I have heard about people talking about that $300 over the last two weeks, no, I don’t think it’s keeping people at home. I think we are going to start seeing more and more people going back into the workforce as we move forward in the coming weeks and months,” Walsh said.

RELATED: $500K from Charlotte scholarship has funded college for over 100 moms

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There is still a backlog on benefits owed, and WCNC gets emails daily about issues with the IRS and refunds that haven’t arrived yet.  Not a perfect world and experts say it will be fall of this year and maybe even spring 2022 before things get sorted out.

Contact Bill McGinty at bmcginty@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook.