JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a push to solve a nationwide worker shortage, the list of stores and restaurants willing to pay workers more money is growing.
For months, several businesses have said they’re struggling to keep up with the flood of returning customers and raised starting wages for entry-level jobs — in some cases — up to $15 per hour.
McDonald’s, Chipotle, Walmart and Costco are boosting wages in hopes of getting more applicants in the door.
McDonalds said for its company-owned stores, entry-level employees will make $11 an hour now. By 2024, it said the average will be $15 per hour.
Amazon, which employs thousands at fulfillment centers and delivery jobs in Jacksonville, announced Thursday it will pay new hires $17 per hour.
The extra incentive to work comes as 15 states, including Georgia, are opting out of federal pandemic-era unemployment benefits. That’s a decision that could impact as many as 1 million people.
“For Georgia to continue to be the No. 1 state in the business, we got to be more productive than we are not right now,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said. “We can’t do that without workers. And that’s what this whole move is about.”
While Florida is not currently on the list to slash unemployment participation, the state is reinstating the job search requirement for unemployment benefits.
Sen. Marco Rubio said business owners are coming to him saying people won’t head back to work if they can make more on unemployment.
“Enhanced unemployment benefits are creating an incentive for people not to return to work until they expire,” Rubio said. “It’s not because people are lazy. I’m not accusing anyone of being lazy. It’s just that people are logical. It’s logic.”
Some analysts are saying some people are reluctant to return to work because they’re afraid of contracting COVID-19. In other cases, women have left the workforce to take care of children who are still in online school, or they can’t find child care facilities.
“I talked to daycare owners yesterday. They need workers. So, I think opening this marketplace up will get them more help where they can take more children. That helps with that problem,” Kemp said.