OSHKOSH, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Local workforce experts and laborers in Northeast Wisconsin are on the fence.
- Wisconsin Republicans want to end $300 unemployment bonus
- Wisconsin waives work searches for people who apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits
- Republicans move to reinstate work-search requirement
"I've been working 12-hour shifts since December," Adam Ulrich of Omro said. "Right now I am just perpetually exhausted. We can't hire anybody right now."
As a steelworker at Lapham Hickey in Oshkosh, Ulrich says a lack of employees at his job is causing headaches.
"We have five welders on my shift... that's all we have," Ulrich said. "We can't seem to get anybody in to work with us."
Wisconsin Republicans proposed a bill to cancel a $300 weekly unemployment supplement introduced during the pandemic. The goal is to fill vacant jobs across the state. But Ulrich is uncertain if the plan will bring him more co-workers.
"I'm not saying the $300, if you take it away, that they will come back," Ulrich said. "But if you do take it away, it's some sort of incentive."
Democratic Governor Tony Evers hasn't definitively addressed the Republican bill yet. But with the additional funds, Wisconsinites currently receive up to $670 per week in unemployment. That's equivalent to an annual salary of nearly $35,000.
Fox Valley Workforce Development Board manager Bobbi Miller says the worker shortage started well before extra unemployment money rolled out in Wisconsin.
"It's not like we didn't have a lot of the existing issues before the pandemic," Miller said. "It's just like they got put on steroids."
The state is not requiring unemployed people to look for work until July 10. But Miller says even entry-level jobs in the Fox Valley are offering well above minimum wage, which sits at $7.25 an hour.
"They're posting those at $15 or more an hour, so I think that we have seen some shift in wages," she said.
A person working eight hours a day making the Wisconsin minimum hourly income would make $290 over five days.
Until the $300 bonus goes away, Miller says only time will tell if it was causing people to stay at home.
"In Northeast Wisconsin, we oftentimes hear the amazing work ethic that our people have," Miller said. "I don't think the pandemic made that go away."
Wisconsin's unemployment rate is currently at 3.8 percent, which is under the six-percent national average.