The state is distributing the first funds under a subsidy program covering the costs for businesses to provide hiring bonuses and training wages, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
So far, the state has awarded more than $500,000 to 60 separate businesses through the $10 million “Return and Earn” program, under which employers can pay $500 hiring bonuses to new workers, and up to $40,000 in training-wages for workers entering a new industry.
“The Department [of Labor] is stepping up with funding to businesses to train these employees as well as a hiring bonus for those returning to the workforce,” Murphy said during a Nov. 22 COVID-19 briefing.
Over 3,700 New Jersey businesses have shown interest, Murphy said. The program was unveiled in September in an effort to alleviate hiring shortages coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly in the retail, entertainment, restaurant and hospitality sectors.
One of the first recipients Murphy highlighted was the Toms River-based MaxFlight Corp., which employs 80 people and produces flight simulators. The governor did not specify the amount awarded, but indicated that the funds were used to train a new employee, and to offer that person a hiring bonus.
Business leaders have said they are pessimistic about the effectiveness of the subsidies in dealing with hiring problems, which they said have held back the recovery this year.
With the arrival of holiday shopping season, labor experts and economists have warned that the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors could face a major crunch because of the hiring shortages. Job growth has been sluggish since many of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the late spring.
The governor contended that the combination of the added bonus, plus the ability to get subsidies to enter an entirely new industry, could be just enough to compel people to get back into the workforce.