A growing number of New Jersey businesses in different industries are expressing alarm about not being able to find enough workers to hire. But the problem will apparently not be solved anytime soon.

Currently, the Department of Labor is requiring those collecting unemployment to certify they are ready, willing and available to work but they don’t have to list any employers they have contacted or specific steps they have taken to find a job.

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Many business leaders have complained some individuals getting unemployment may not really be looking for work because they can earn more if they continue to collect UI benefits.

During the latest COVID update in Trenton on Wednesday, when Gov. Phil Murphy was asked if he would consider reinstating the “actively searching for work” requirement, especially with the expanded reopening of the state beginning May 19, he said no.

The governor acknowledged that many businesses are having a hard time hiring people.

“The overwhelming number of folks who have been hit economically, particularly with job loss in this pandemic, have suffered enormously, and so the benefits overwhelmingly are needed for them and for their families," he said.

Murphy suggested while the situation may be frustrating for business owners, “it’s a passing reality. This is not going to be the case forever. These benefits are not forever and always."

The governor also said he’s aware that some business owners are being forced to increase pay offers to $15 an hour to try and find employees.

“My sense is that’s probably one way that folks will get around this,” he said. “And my guess is in fairness they’ll probably pass that on, so the burger is going to be an extra 50 cents or 75 cents, whatever it might be.”

Murphy also said New Jersey would not consider ending its participation in the federal unemployment program that is paying an additional $300 a week in extra benefits to those collecting unemployment.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte recently announced his state would no longer participate in the program because of the ongoing worker shortage in that state.

After a pause of more than one year, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has announced the work-search requirement for people receiving unemployment benefits will resume next month.

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