ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's now been more than a year since the U.S. labor market collapsed and millions of jobs vanished. And while the economy is healing, Americans aren't rushing to get back to work.
Restaurants are starting to fill up again, which is a good sight to see! But with more guests, you need the workers and that's the new challenge many business owners are facing. Across all sectors, too - not just for restaurant owners.
The U.S. is still millions of jobs short of where it was before the pandemic. Some economists say it's because of extended unemployment benefits. Others say workers are reassessing their career choices and the restaurant industry isn't seeing workers because of notably low wages.
The owner of Hollandberry Pannekoeken, Tasos Psomas, is hoping with school almost over for the year, teens and college students will be looking for summer work. "What's happening right now is we're tiring out our everyday staff," he explained. "They're working really hard, long hours, hard hours and they're getting tired. They're not gonna be able to do this all summer long."
Psomas is afraid customer service will start to dwindle if people don't get back to work. "with this extra stimulus money, people are out shopping and buying things and there's nobody to help them. I worry," he explained. "Minnesota and America - customer service has always been king -- it's very important and I'm worried it's not going to be because there's a certain point when you care more about the employee than the customer and you're going to side with the employee because you're like, 'hey, I can't lose him.'"
On Tuesday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the state is pulling the plug on federal unemployment benefits. If Minnesota follows suit, business owners believe people would get back to work. Iowa will continue providing regular state unemployment insurance benefits to those eligible, but this week will be the last week certain pandemic-related benefits will be available.
The nation is still down more than 8 million jobs and economists say some of them might never come back.