COOKEVILLE — On Friday, May 28th, U.S. Rep. John Rose (TN-6) hosted a local business forum with Tennessee State Sen. Paul Bailey and Tennessee Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Jeff McCord for small businesses, retail shops, restaurants and franchise owners across Middle Tennessee who are concerned about the labor participation crisis affecting the post-COVID workforce.
“Even though in Tennessee there are no industry shutdowns and we are operating with no restrictions, many businesses are still closed or not operating at full capacity, not as a result of the pandemic, but due to a lack of staff as individuals refuse to return to their pre-COVID jobs,” said Rose.
During the forum, local business owners were able to share their concerns about challenges in recruitment and retention of employees with many citing the enhanced unemployment benefits as the reason for the staffing shortage. Many also asked questions about how we can incentivize Tennesseans to get back to work.
“Our local job creators should not have to compete with the federal government for workers,” said Rose. “Yet that’s exactly what is happening. If we want to expand economic output, increase job creation and have more economic prosperity, then we should focus on getting workers out of the unemployment line by getting government out of the way.”
The current labor participation crisis follows the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which extended a $300-per-week federal boost to regular state unemployment benefits until September 2021, included one-time direct payments of up to $1,400 for millions of Americans and expanded the Child Tax Credit.
Tennessee recently joined 22 other states in the decision to stop accepting the Federal plus-up for unemployment benefits. Federal unemployment assistance programs will end in Tennessee on July 3, 2021.
U.S. Rep. John Rose is currently serving his second term representing Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District and resides in Cookeville with his wife, Chelsea, and their two sons, Guy and Sam. The Sixth District includes Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White and Wilson counties as well as portions of Cheatham and Van Buren counties. Rep. Rose is an eighth-generation farmer, small business owner, and attorney and currently serves on the Financial Services Committee.