SWFL businesses continue search for workers

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Kitchen staff at work. Credit: WINK News

If you have gone out to eat lately, you’ve possibly experienced long lines, slow service and lengthy delays. Due to short staffing, you may deal with longer wait times for food while its being prepared. This is what people across Southwest Florida, and the country as a whole, are dealing with, as finding people to hire and keeping them has remained difficult.

For over a year, some people have been making $700 to $800 a week from unemployment benefits, so businesses that can’t pay their employees more than that are really suffering. A lot has changed since June 26, when the unemployment funding from the federal government was withdrawn, but businesses are still having trouble finding new employees.

“My daughter is a server, and she’s out on Sanibel, and they don’t have enough servers, and they don’t have enough cooks,” said Tom Jobin, owner of Express Employment Professionals. “So people are waiting 45 minutes to 60 minutes to get their meal, you know what I mean? Which is a direct reflection on… they don’t have enough staff, don’t have enough people.”

Businesses need employees to operate, of course, but people in the job market are looking for more than sub-minimum wages. And there’s no way to say, factually, that the main source of the hiring problem is people wanting to stay on unemployment benefits.

After May 29, people were re-required to input work searches in order to enter for unemployment benefits, meaning you had to put five or three job searches a week (depending on where you live in Florida). Combined with cutting off federal unemployment benefits, requested of Gov. Ron DeSantis by Floridian business owners, WINK News investigative reporter Sara Girard says those on unemployment have more to lose than gain by not seeking work.

“If you deny a job, that risks your unemployment benefits,” Girard says. “You have to be willing and able to work in order to receive unemployment benefits. So there isn’t very much incentive to deny a job, because you may be risking your only income.”

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