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Landscaping owner, hiring manager have high hopes with new unemployment proposal

Mid-Michigan landscaping company has had a tough time filling open positions, and the hiring...
Mid-Michigan landscaping company has had a tough time filling open positions, and the hiring manager and owner say it's mainly because of the $600 federal unemployment benefit, which has now ended in Michigan.(ABC12 News)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 11:09 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Some local businesses are looking to fill open positions but say the federal unemployment boost has hampered their efforts.

“You know, they [potential employees] want to know whether they’re going to be able to make as much money as they were making on unemployment,” said Doug Donaldson, HR Hiring Manager at Ace Outdoor Services.

Some companies that have struggled to fill positions believe they can have success in that are now that the $600 federal payment has come to an end for eligible Michiganders.

Doug Donaldson says landscaping company Ace Outdoor Services has more than 10 positions open. A quick search of “landscaping” or “lawn service” on Indeed.com shows they’re not the only ones. Ace is looking to bring in workers on all levels, particularly skilled laborers, with pay ranging from $11 to $22 per hour.

When asked what potential employees are concerned about, he said the coronavirus is a factor but not as much as payment.

“Some people have some concerns. They ask if they have to wear a mask, do we have gloves and of course we tell them we have all the personal protection equipment that you need,” Donaldson said. “The biggest question is though, they want to know if they’re going to be able to make as much money as they were on unemployment.”

In May, Democrats passed an extension of the $600 federal benefit through the end of the year as a critical part of the Heroes Act.

RELATED: Democrats, GOP far apart on virus aid; Trump wants a deal

This week Republican lawmakers have proposed lowering the payment to $200 per week through September as part of the Heals Act.

Then, in October through December, the GOP plan would switch that flat rate to a percentage equal to no more than 70-percent of the worker’s estimated lost wages.

Democrats have been critical of the plan, saying in part, it would cause delays.

RELATED: GOP’s jobless benefit plan could mean delays, states warn

Tuesday, Michigan’s governor, business leaders and teachers also called on Congress to act quickly with another aid package.

RELATED: MI-CORE teachers want to return to the classroom, safely

With the federal unemployment supplement over, for now, Donaldson says he’s already seen some improvement.

“Now, things are starting to turn around a little bit,” Donaldson said. “This week has been a little bit of an uptick as far as applicants and hopefully that continues.”

The state says $13.4 billion in supplemental federal unemployment has been paid to Michigan workers providing critical emergency support.

In an ABC12 poll, more than 60-percent of voters agree with lowering the federal unemployment payment to $200. You can weigh in right now on ABC12′s home page.

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