By Mara McJilton | June 4, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT – Updated June 4 at 8:16 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Many local businesses have struggled to keep a full staff through the pandemic, and unemployment checks might be to blame.
A number of factors come into play — from lack of daycare options, to those who are uncomfortable getting back in the workplace while the pandemic continues.
A common complaint from restaurants — help is needed, but economy experts said that many people just aren’t motivated to get back to work yet.
“When they’re receiving the higher unemployment checks that are being sent out right now, that removes some incentive to accept a new job,” said regional economist Adam Jones.
Beginning June 6, people who claim unemployment must contact at least three employers each week, make a jobseeker account on NCWorks.gov, and keep a detailed record of their job search in order to receive benefits.
There has been a push to raise wages in an effort to gain new workers, but that is not realistic for small businesses. “You don’t want to disrupt your pay structure in the long run, for a temporary event,” Jones explained.
General Manager at Michaels on the Waterfront, Michael Lavigna said he isn’t willing to break the bank to get workers in the door. “Oh, we’ve done that. I’ve seen a lot of restaurants and what they’re paying hourly, and I’m like, that’s crazy,” he said.
Loyal employees have helped keep the restaurant open throughout the pandemic, but he said, “It’s hard. We just gotta keep on grinding, do what we can with the limited staff that we have.”
In a few months when the unemployment payments come to an end, Lavigna believes the tables will turn.
“I think you’re gonna see the gates open up, and people coming out and start looking for jobs again.”
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