(CBS4) – Labor shortages have hit commercial drivers in the petroleum industry. Colorado business owner says it’s time to “cut the feed tube” on pandemic unemployment benefits.
“I agree with unemployment benefits in certain situations like dismissal. The problem with the state of Colorado is that they give unemployment for whatever reason and you take advantage of it. I don’t support any of the extra payments the government makes, ”said Mike Knowles, owner of Knowles Transportation.
Knowles estimates that his company spends around $ 10,000 per month on recruiting fees and advertising. In 18 years of activity, he has never known such a difficult period.
“Right now, not having the drivers, we are refusing work, you know? So while we have a great business and have great opportunities if you don’t have anyone to drive these trucks and you can’t bring people in to fix them, it just doesn’t work very well for you. Says Knowles.
Knowles says he has had to increase wages to help recruit drivers, which in turn increases the cost of his product and, consequently, gasoline prices. He also says the shortage of drivers has resulted in delays in deliveries to the pump. Especially in the high country where motorists flock for the holidays.
“… and when you start to shut down pipelines, the side effect is that we have to haul it further, so if you have to haul it further and there are no drivers, that’s a real challenge. “
READ MORE: Governor Jared Polis: Weekly payments of $ 300 for pandemic unemployment will continue in Colorado
He thinks the state needs to follow what other states are doing and withdraw unemployment benefits to get people to work, but Gov. Jared Polis’s office believes it’s important to keep benefits in place.
In addition to unemployment, the governor’s office says it is paving the way for people to get back to work with Colorado Jumpstart, a program offered to Colorado unemployment beneficiaries who returned to work between May 16 and June 26, 2021. Those who returned to work before June 1 were eligible to receive $ 1,600, and after, $ 1,200.
In an email, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said 17,000 applicants had opted for the program.
“Governor Polis is striving for real results and to ensure that we all rebuild stronger than before. Congress shouldn’t be paying for it if it doesn’t want states to use it. It’s free federal government money for Colorado and if Colorado ended it before Congress paid it off during the first week of September, it would drain about $ 600 million to $ 800 million from our state, ”he said. writes Conor Cahill, spokesperson for the governor’s office. . “Governor Polis is focused on the swift and efficient distribution of millions of dollars in federal stimulus relief received by the state and he appreciates the work of those in the federal delegation who have sought to ensure that Colorado receives this. essential funding. If Congress wanted to increase flexibility on how Colorado could use the $ 600 million to $ 800 million, Colorado would be interested in other uses, but it wouldn’t be in our best interests to send it back instead of sending it. to Coloradans in need. We know that just because more Coloradians are returning to full-time work after this global pandemic doesn’t mean that their financial challenges will simply go away. Colorado residents who are unemployed seek employment in our state and Colorado was one of the first states to reinstate the requirement that all unemployed beneficiaries actively seek employment in order to qualify for benefits. We are delighted that thousands of claimants have already opted for the Jumpstart program this month and that more and more workers are taking advantage of the $ 1,200 incentive if they return to work and terminate their benefits. unemployment. When the Governor was in Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction this month, he heard some very positive things about how bonuses have increased claims.
Overall, Colorado’s unemployment rate is 6.4% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranking Colorado 35th in the country. Colorado’s labor force increased by 1,300 in May to 3,198,100. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force was 68.6% in May, just below the previous labor force participation rate. the February 2020 pandemic by 68.7%.