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(The Center Square) – A group of 181 Kansas businesses and organizations have asked Gov. Laura Kelly to end the federal supplement to unemployment insurance benefits.

"Most small business owners we have surveyed or heard from fault, at least in part, the federal supplemental unemployment payment as a reason for the workforce shortage," Dan Murray, Kansas state director of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told The Center Square. "It’s hard to say that it is the only reason, but we know that when workers can make as much or more sitting at home, it is difficult to encourage them to rejoin the Kansas workforce."

There are more than 57,000 job openings in Kansas, and 58,468 people receiving unemployment benefits, according to WDAF.

"I think many will return when the supplemental payment ends," Murray said. "We also believe that when schools get back to full time in-person, which many believe they should have been from the outset of the pandemic, that working parents can get back into the workforce."

Murray said the Kansas NFIB also believes that the supplemental payment is in some cases artificially driving up wages in some sectors.

"Small business owners do offer competitive pay in the markets in which they operate," Murray said. "Many have raised wages and offered signing bonuses to attract the much-needed skilled workforce."

The fault is not directly in the unemployment insurance system, which is the safety net for those who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. The system itself is intended to provide temporary relief for those who may be unfortunately struggling. Yet, at this time, there is high worker demand.

"Workforce demand is driving up wages, which is a good thing for those looking for a job," Murray said. "But, government-driven policies like minimum wage requirements and this federal supplemental payment only serve to artificially drive up labor costs for small businesses."