WorldWide Drilling Resource

39 JULY 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Drilling Into Money Not Boring by Mark E. Battersby Where are all the Workers? Many in the drilling industry are finding themselves short of the one thing they need to thrive and grow - workers. The Bank of America recently estimated 4.6 million workers exited the labor force during the pandemic - but only half are expected to rejoin by the end of the year. One reason for the shortage may be we’re paying people not to work. For workers earning less than $32,000 annually, it’s more financially lucrative to collect federal and state aid than taking a job. After all, benefits for nonworkers now average $16 per hour, more than twice the $7.25 hourly minimum wage. The Biden Administration says Americans must accept a job or lose unemployment benefits. In the Senate, a proposed bill, the National Signing Bonus Act, would convert unemployment insurance’s expanded benefits into a two-month bonus for anyone going back to work. A number of states have already, or are on the verge of, eliminating the $300-a-week unemploy- ment benefit extension included in the American Rescue Plan. One cure: A reward to employees who bring another job candidate onboard. Of course, for these bonuses to be most effective, there should be some requirements, such as working a set length of time, meeting certain standards, sustaining growth over a certain period, or more before the bonus is paid. So-called “signing bonuses,” such as those common in professional sports, is money offered to attract well-qualified employees and convince them to accept a job. Bonuses and awards must, of course, be included in an employee's taxable income. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups such as qualified veterans, ex-cons, summer youth employees, long-term unemployment recipients, and more, all groups that have traditionally faced significant barriers to employment. The credit is equal to a percentage of the eligible employee’s wages - up to $9600 depending on the new hire’s WOTC target group. Of course, the employee must work at least 120 hours for the employer to receive the credit. To attract talented individuals to work for the drilling operation, as well as to retain qualified employees, employer’s in today’s job market must often offer increased wages, fringe benefits, and other perks. With the help of professional guidance, the most successful options could well be the ones which cost the operation the least. Mark Mark E. Battersby may be contacted via e-mail to