Labor crisis continues across Georgia as Gov. Kemp announces change to unemployment benefits

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp has announced that starting June 26th, Georgians receiving unemployment benefits will no longer receive the extra $300 per week provided by the government.

This change comes because businesses need workers to operate, but on the other hand, some people don’t feel safe heading back to work just yet.

“We’re busy again, only to be brought down by the fact that it is difficult to hire, and it is a real concern,” said Ryan Pernice, owner of Roswell restaurant Table & Main.

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Pernice isn’t having an issue getting customers into the restaurant anymore, it’s workers he can’t seem to get inside.

“We haven’t had a line cook interview in maybe eight weeks or so,” he told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson.

State officials say Georgia is in the middle of a labor crisis for employers, and especially restaurants.

That’s why Gov. Kemp says Georgia will stop paying out federal unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act.

“For Georgia to continue to be the number one state for business, we gotta be more productive than we are right now. We can’t do that without workers, and that’s what this whole move is about right now,” Gov. Kemp said.

Another program coming to an end is pandemic unemployment assistance for nearly 208,000 Georgians who don’t quality for state benefits.

“I had a plan, and I didn’t anticipate that they were going to not follow through,” said Fulton County resident Sharon Corpening.

Corpening says federal weekly payments have been a lifeline while applying for jobs and caring for her elderly mother.

“It enables me to not go completely under,” she told Johnson.

More than 251,000 job listings are open on employgeorgia.com. The month before the pandemic began there were 70,000 job listings.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says the state couldn’t afford to wait until the federal benefits expired on their own in September.

“I’ve never seen a labor shortage this extreme. I mean, this is a crisis,” said Butler.

Elizabeth Knight tells Johnson that health concerns for her 8-year-old son are what job hunting so difficult.

“His safety is more important than me going back to work right now,” said Knight.

Pernice says he is hopeful more people can start working again soon, but understands it may take time.

“Some of those people in that bucket of those who were on the sidelines because of the stimulus may come back to work. But I again, I don’t think it’s as simple as that,” said Pernice.

Some Democrats in Washington want the U.S. Department of Labor to look at options to block Georgia and 15 other states from opting out of this CARES Act funding.

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