RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After losing more than $5 billion in taxable sales during the pandemic the North Carolina General Assembly is trying to put people back to work with a bill that promises big incentives.
“They literally can’t clean and bus tables, serve food, and cook food quickly enough so many of them are now turning away business,” said Lynn Minges, President of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
According to Minges the hospitality industry has lost more than 70,000 workers since the start of the pandemic.
“There are a number of folks who are receiving stimulus money and unemployment benefits, and it makes it a disincentive for them to come back to the workplace,” said Minges.
“There’s really no evidence of that,” said Duke economist John Quintero.
Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing HB128 which incentivizes people on unemployment to get back to work by offering a $1,500 signing bonus.
“It’s really a win-win,” said Minges. “It allows those who can’t come back to work to continue to keep unemployment. It allows those who are willing and interesting in coming back to earn even more money.”
“If you’ve got a job that can’t beat $537 a week do you really have a job,” asked Quintero.
Quintero says the pandemic is allowing a recalibration in the service industry that’s only going to benefit workers in the long term.
“When employers have to compete for workers it’s a recipe for rising wages and improved compensation,” said Quintero.
“It’s an issue we have to address sooner rather than later,” said Minges. “We can’t wait until September when federal unemployment benefits run out.”
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