During an event held to promote President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, a small business owner in Pennsylvania said the continued federal pandemic jobless payments have contributed to the difficulty of finding workers.
The $1.9 trillion bill included a taxpayer-funded $300 added unemployment benefit on top of weekly state benefits through September 2021.
Greg Heller-LaBelle, CEO of The Colony Meadery in Allentown, Pa., was a featured speaker at a virtual news conference with Pennsylvania Democrats Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Susan Wild, who were touting the benefits of Biden’s stimulus plan. Just the News asked the lawmakers if they had a message for small businesses around the nation, particularly restaurants, who have said they can’t find enough workers due to the continued expanded unemployment benefits.
The lawmakers had dropped off of the Zoom call as the question and answer session began, so Just the News asked Heller-LaBelle if he’s had a hard time finding help due to the added federal weekly benefits.
“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” he said. “And I almost don’t know any other small business owner who isn’t. You know, to put it in perspective, I’m trying to hire someone right now at $15 an hour plus tips plus free booze. That’s maybe 20 hours a week, and you’re done by 2 p.m. on the weekends, and I can’t find anyone to take the job. And some of that is assuredly because of the expanded unemployment,” Heller-LaBelle said.
“Some of it’s also because of childcare and, you know, lack of health insurance and all the other things that are kind of intertwined with people’s inability to take jobs,” he added. “As in the hospitality industry … our schedule kind of runs counter to the normal work week, so we rely pretty heavily on people either taking it as like a hobby or side job or someone who’s really in the industry, which means that if you have a family, you’ve got some other support for that, and you know, at the moment, we still haven’t seen those, that level of dynamic kind of hiring come back. It’s very hard to find people who can take the jobs right now.”