After more than a year of coronavirus limitations on his business, Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge, he's awaiting a breakout summer tourism season. But like workers across the country, he's concerned he won't have enough employees.
“We’ve been getting many excuses as to why not to return,” said Rovetto, who is offering a signing bonus of up to $600 to try to add 15 to 20 employees who agree to stay through the middle of October. “Obviously, it was a legitimate one with COVID, but, you know, I think that’s getting used less and less now. The vaccines are free; they are out there for anyone.”
Many employers are expressing similar stories. Fourteen months after COVID-19 put hundreds of thousands of people out of work, the U.S. economy is ricocheting and employers are acutely worried for workers.
The challenge was stressed Friday when employers nationwide added 266,000 jobs, far fewer than expected, and businesses reported they couldn’t find people to fill the vacancies they have to maintain with the quickly growing economic rebound.
To inspire people to return to work, more states are making it harder for people to stay on unemployment. Many blame the easy benefits that followed the pandemic, including what is now a $300-a-week supplemental federal payment on top of state benefits. The thought is that people make more money staying home than going back to work.
Several states have started requiring those receiving unemployment benefits to show they are actively searching for work, and a few will stop giving the additional federal supplement.
It's not just the entertainment sector that is struggling to fill openings. Alene Candles, based in Milford, New Hampshire, is looking to fill 1,500 jobs for its facility there and another in New Albany, Ohio, to meet the requirement for the holiday season. Company representatives will be engaging in several virtual job fairs this month.
“We have had more than 100 positions open since the start of the year, and just recently we increased sign-on bonuses to $1,200 for hourly positions -– in-part because we are competing with an entity that can print its own money -– the federal government -– and its $300 per week additional unemployment benefit," said CEO Rod Harl. “I would love to welcome those searching for work to join our team.”