Frankfort (June 17, 2021) – More than forty member companies from the Kentucky Forest Products Association (KFIA) have drafted a letter to Governor Andy Beshear requesting his administration halt Kentucky’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC). Citing critical workforce needs, the signors indicate their concerns about rising demand from their customers and not enough help to staff their businesses.
“I continue to hear concerns across the state from our members about their struggles to employ qualified applicants,” said Bob Bauer, Executive Director of KFIA. “With a direct economic impact of $9.55 billion and employment approaching 60,000 Kentuckians, the forest products industry is a quiet, but robust group of companies that operate in virtually every county. So many of these businesses are family-owned working in rural and distressed counties. As their trade association and advocate in Frankfort, we hope the Governor will give this matter his full attention. We and others stand ready to work with his administration on a solution.”
“The FPUC was created in March 2020 when we all were concerned about an economy in free fall,” said Michael Thornberry, author of the letter and Vice President of Powell Valley Millwork. “Like so many government assistance programs, cash payments are a one-size-fits-all approach that is now hindering what could be a remarkable economic recovery in the state. Our business remains strong with demand downstream for American-made hardwood products, but we do not have the workforce to produce. We should not have to compete with unemployment benefits to hire and retain employees. I hope Governor Beshear will consider what nearly half the other states have done by incentivizing folks to return to the workforce rather than paying able-bodied individuals to remain at home.”
The Kentucky Forest Industries Association represents the wood products industry, landowners and forestry interests in Kentucky. The Association promotes the economic welfare and interests of the wood products industry through a number of programs and work with regulatory agencies advocating for forestry in the legislative process at the state and national level.