Whitmer proposes using $300M of virus aid to boost minimum wage

Whitmer proposes using $300M of virus aid to boost minimum wage
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Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerReporter: FBI involvement in Whitmer plot similar to sting operations targeting Islamic extremists Former Detroit police chief takes step toward gubernatorial run Whitmer has raised .5 million so far in 2021 MORE (D) on Thursday proposed using $300 million in federal COVID-19 funding to help businesses in the state offer $15 hourly wages to employees.

The Associated Press reported that under Whitmer’s proposal, state grants would fund the difference between an employee’s current per-hour pay and $15 for three months, as long as the businesses pledge to continue the $15 pay for at least three subsequent months.

The plan, however, has to be approved by the Republican-controlled legislature before it can go into effect, the AP noted.

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The proposal is part of a larger economic plan that the governor presented at a women’s business center in Grand Rapids, according to the wire service. She did not, however, disclose how many employees the plan would impact.

The economic plan also includes funding for new programs that would send adults ages 25 and older and front-line workers to community college tuition-free, according to the AP.

Whitmer also emphasized the need for $300 million to offer grants and loans to small businesses that are struggling, and called attention to her budget proposal that advocates for expanding access to no- or low-cost child care to families that are at 200 percent of the federal poverty line, the wire service reported.

Whitmer’s new proposal comes as the U.S. continues to face a worker shortage.

A Tuesday report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the worker shortage crisis in the country has continued to worsen in the past months.

The Chamber determined that while there was an increase of 600,000 vacant jobs in the U.S. from February to March, the number of available workers per job, 1.4, is now half of what the national average has been for the past 20 years.

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The group also brought attention to the April jobs report, which said 266,000 jobs were created when analysts had expected upwards of 1 million.

In some industries, the Chamber noted, there are fewer available workers than the number of vacant jobs, including in the education, health services and government sectors.

A survey conducted by the Chamber in May found that 90 percent of local and state chambers of commerce blamed the worker shortage for slowing down the economy in their areas.

Additionally, 67.3 percent of respondents said businesses were finding it "very difficult" to find and hire workers.