Richmond restaurants look to Chamber of Commerce for staffing help

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A hiring sign offers a $500 bonus outside a McDonalds restaurant, in Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pa., Wednesday, May 5, 2021. U.S. employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, starkly illustrating the desperation of businesses to hire more people as the economy expands. Yet total job gains increased only modestly that month, according to a Labor Department report issued Tuesday, May 11. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

RICHMOND, Ky. (WDKY) – As the economy spins back up to full speed, the president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce says businesses are still hurting, this time from a lack of people applying for their jobs.

“Restaurants were pretty much the ones that were hit the hardest in the beginning of COVID. And now that they are getting to open back up it’s still like they are really getting hit hard again,” Mendi Goble said.

Goble believes a lot of it comes down to money.

A Bank of America estimate suggests people who made less than $32,000 are making more collecting UI benefits because of the temporary $300 a week expansion by the federal government.

A lot of businesses have raised their starting pay, but apparently not enough.

“Does it make sense to go back to work when you’re making, you know, more to stay home? I understand that. And that to me is probably the biggest issue,” Goble said.

But Goble says it’s not just a matter of money. For some workers, they won’t be able to get back on the job, until other businesses get back to normal.

“Daycare issues a problem. Because if the hours for the daycare aren’t what they are going to be, working that makes it hard as well,” Goble said.

For business owners, it’s hard to meet that demand without a full staff.

“It’s been a hard time on everyone. And I really don’t judge anyone for what they do, we’re just hopeful that things will get better. Business has improved, it’s just hard right now,” said Wesley Browne with Apollo’s Pizza.

Brown is asking for patience from his customers. He also said they’ve had to make some adjustments.

“At our Berea location we had to cut daytime deliveries. We just couldn’t find a delivery driver. At this location we had two managers that were working literally all the time and we finally cut Mondays and Tuesdays because they weren’t getting any time off,” Brown said.

Even once those expanded benefits expire, there will likely still be big changes.

A Pew research poll from earlier this year found 66 percent of unemployed people have seriously considered changing their line of work. And Goble says that may not be the only difference.

“And I do believe wages are going to be higher just because of all that’s happened, once you’ve gone up to a certain amount that’s hard to ever come back down to that,” Goble said.

Those expanded unemployment benefits are scheduled to continue until September 7.

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