Businesses, Unemployed Oklahomans React To Stitt's Return To Work Incentive

Monday, May 17th 2021, 5:02 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Business at Santa Fe Cattle Company in Broken Arrow may be booming, but General Manager Tony Harris says their staffing is not.

"We just don't have the workforce coming in to apply for jobs," said Harris.

Harris says ever since they reopened after closing at the start of the pandemic, he's been unable to find many people willing to work.

"We have plenty of jobs and people think working restaurants are low wages but they're not,” said Harris. “People make pretty good money working here."

It’s an issue that restaurants and businesses across the state have been reporting as well.

Governor Kevin Stitt says he hears about it from employers all of the time.

Related Story: Gov. Stitt Announces $1,200 Return-To-Work Incentive

"Our challenge is not to get businesses back open,” said Stitt. “It’s been getting employees back to work."

So on Monday, the Governor announced a $1,200 incentive for unemployed Oklahomans who go back to work. He also announced the extra $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits will end next month.

Related Story: Gov. Stitt To End Federal Unemployment Benefits Early, Offers Job Seekers $1,200 Reward

Harris hopes it will encourage more people to apply.

"I'm excited about it,” said Harris. “Because that's what we want, people to come work and make money."

But others looking for jobs are still worried.

"If I were to quit looking for a job that actually pays enough and I just took any job out there that pays around 8 dollars, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills," said Deonte Taylor who is unemployed.

Taylor was laid off from his fast-food job during the pandemic and says he needs that extra $300 to help pay his rent and car. Taylor says he's excited about the new incentive, but he's worried about finding a long-term job that pays enough.

"Some of them I'm underqualified. Some of them I'm overqualified so it's just a back and forth thing," said Taylor.