Editorial: Can’t find workers? Try paying them a living wage

If case you missed it last week, a recent Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com offers a simple, commonsense take on the “labor shortage” that’s suddenly afflicting the North Carolina economy.

After noting the fact the North Carolinians have been flooding back to work in droves as the pandemic has blessedly eased, the essay puts it this way:

There are some looking to perpetuate a myth that there are people who aren’t working or looking for jobs but simply continuing to accept government benefits (“paying people not to work” is how these mythmakers like to phrase it).

Former Gov. Pat McCrory, now a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, bragged in a recent interview about slashing the state’s unemployment benefits back in 2013 to among the lowest in the nation. He perpetuated the myth that lowering benefits drives people to work saying some employers tell him “they cannot fill jobs now because when you pay people more not to work, guess what they’ll do? Most of them won’t work.”

The facts just don’t bear it out. North Carolinians want to be on the job.

After then discussing a scheme concocted at the General Assembly to pay workers $1,500 to get a job, it notes that:

The increase in federal unemployment benefits have shed a bright light – and North Carolina workers spot it – that some employers simply aren’t paying them a living wage. Some families have found they are better off with a single breadwinner instead of two. It is not about living off of unemployment payment benefits. It is the realization that it does not make economic sense to take a job that costs a family more money than it brings in.

State policymakers – from Gov. Roy Cooper to leaders of the General Assembly and rank-and-file legislators – shouldn’t shy away from looking to be creative in rebuilding the state’s work force.

But they also need to disabuse themselves of the notion that the problem is the workers. North Carolinians are not lazy, they are not shirkers and they are not the problem.

In other words, as this morning’s Florida Phoenix reported in a story about restaurant workers, people want to work, but they also want and deserve a living wage. State leaders should make the state minimum wage one that provides it.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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