The first step in solving Oklahoma's dire workforce shortage was taken today when Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Oklahoma would no longer participate in supplemental federal unemployment benefits programs.
"Every employer I speak with, inside or outside of the state, is struggling to recruit workers," said Chad Warmington, president and CEO of The State Chamber. "While federal programs provided needed benefits at the height of the pandemic when businesses were forced to shutter, these benefits have now incentivized workers to remain on unemployment after we have safely reopened our economy."
"Employers are offering competitive wages with generous benefits packages and workers are still refusing to return to work," he said. "It was time to stop disincentivizing hope and opportunity for Oklahomans. Gov. Stitt recognizes there is no government program that can provide the same potential for individual economic freedom as a fully functioning private business can."
Members of The State Chamber agree.
"Despite relatively high levels of unemployment, we have several openings with few applicants. If we are going to grow our businesses, our economy and our state's financial strength, we must get our capable workforce off the sidelines and into jobs."
- Dana Weber, President & CEO, Webco Industries, Inc.
"Georg Fischer Central Plastics stayed open and kept our employees safe during the pandemic. As businesses began to open back up, demand for our products skyrocketed, but our ability to add to our workforce was disappointing at best, with many stating they could make more on unemployment. These are not minimum wage jobs and offer career growth, excellent benefits and a safe and stable workplace. Today's action by Gov. Kevin Stitt is a step in removing one of the barriers for Oklahoma to thrive."
- Dani Shields, Director of Human Resources, Georg Fischer Central Plastics, LLC
"Over the last three months, Michelin North American has had difficulty in meeting customer demand due to labor shortages with both subcontractors and our core hiring populations in many of our manufacturing locations. We employ approximately 1,500 individuals in our Ardmore facility and are hopeful this change will help us fill our open subcontractor positions as soon as possible."
- Will Whitley, Director of State, Local Government Affairs and Community Relations, Michelin North America