Unemployment benefits end, business owners still grapple to search employees

Unemployment benefits end, business owners still grapple to search employees

As the federal programs put in place in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic expired Monday. It seems no matter where you go, “Now Hiring” signs fill the streets, as businesses desperately looking for workers. Most of the signs have been on display for months as a labor shortage continues, as the economy looks to bounce back during the pandemic.

More than 7 million out-of-work Americans will lose all of their unemployment benefits this week.

Nearly 300,000 people in Massachusetts lost unemployment benefits as a lifeline from the federal government ends on Labor Day. Smaller businesses are hoping the elimination of the enhanced federal unemployment insurance will help bring back workers.

Tjossen said she lost her job as a church event scheduler when the pandemic began. She got some hours back then lost them again when the Delta variant surged.

She is a mother of two and says she has picked up some other work during the pandemic and got food from a food pantry.

She says she used the federal pandemic money to pay the bills.

“To pay off some loans, to pay property tax because even before the pandemic, we were paycheck to three days before a paycheck,” she said.

Financially she says life for her is a tightrope, and she will feel the loss of those benefits.

In North Portland, Stormbreaker Brewing owner Rob Lutz is working this Labor Day and hoping more people would return to work. “We’ve been trying to hire For a while,” he said. “We ended up raising our wages early on to try to entice people to come back. That didn’t really do much. We know we’re paying more than what they would be making on unemployment.”

Lutz says he understands some folks have childcare and other issues they deal with. He’s not blaming anyone for not working, but he says it has been difficult. If he could hire a few more people, he could stay open more hours.

“We’re hoping that people come back,” he said. Meantime Tjossem says she hopes to get her full hours back at the church, but she worries about her financial uncertainty during the new surge in covid cases.

“There’s part of it that’s faith, and you have to have faith,” she said. To those who accuse people like her of taking handouts, she says this:

“You don’t know what everybody is dealing with,” Tjossem said. Other states did get rid of the federal pandemic benefits several months ago. There was some return to the workforce by those unemployed but definitely no rush back.

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