HARRISBURG, Pa. — You've probably seen a 'now hiring' sign or two at stores, gas stations, and other businesses.
Many places are offering sign-on bonuses to incentivize people to work.
Incentives may help businesses hire, though, those perks could be bad for people's wallets down the road.
"Anywhere you go right now, there are now hiring signs. People are desperate for people," said Lynneah Smith, Human Resources Manager for Elsner Engineering Works in Hanover, York County.
Elsner is looking to hire too.
"We're super busy, and when COVID hit, we got even busier," explained Smith.
That's because Elsner workers build the machines which produce the cleaning cloths so many people have used over the past year.
"When I started we had 70 employees. As of Monday, we have 143 employees. We have quite literally doubled in size," explained Smith. "It has been extremely difficult to find those people, and recruitment and hiring is a challenge for us."
How can we attract new workers? That's a question many employers are asking right now.
"We have offered sign on bonuses. Current employees receive referral bonuses," explained Smith. "We've had to consider relocation assistance so we're looking beyond the Hanover area for positions especially like our engineers. We've looked at increasing pay rates to be more attractive."
Sign-on incentives are becoming more common.
"The biggest I've heard is $1,500 for fast food. I've heard of people adding $2 per hour," said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
The PA Chamber believes the additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits could be deterring some people from wanting to work.
"It could be that there are childcare issues. I understand that because the childcare facilities may not be not open, but maybe, the childcare facilities aren't open because they can't get their workers back either," Barr said.
Incentives may help now, but will they hurt us later?
"It is certainly likely to reduce the adverse impacts of a minimum wage increase, but the flipside of that is, we're already seeing inflation come in, and we may see acceleration of inflation," explained Barr.
Acceleration of inflation could happen as businesses charge more for their services to pay for the added incentives.
Barr has a recommendation for employers.
"If you're a employer, and you go to call your employee back, same job, same rate, or maybe, 'I'll give you more,' if that person says no, you, as an employer, are encouraged to contact the PA Department of Labor and Industry because they're now committing unemployment compensation fraud," explained Barr.