Struggling to find workers, owners in NJ blame unemployment benefits

Stay employed for six months and you will get a bonus of $ 500. Work here and you will get a free meal during each of your shifts.

The unemployment rate in New Jersey remains much higher than it was in early March 2020, before the coronavirus restrictions, but New Jersey businesses are struggling to find help more than ever.

“We don’t have enough workers to run the restaurant 50%. It’s ridiculous, ”said Roger Price, president of Restaurant Mastoris in Bordentown.

He is currently pledging a total of $ 300 over time to current workers who recruit other people. Every now and then he will offer free dinners to people who can lead him to a legitimate employee.

According to Price and other business leaders, the reason for this struggle is obvious: Unemployment benefits continue to expand, along with weekly bonuses ($ 300 through early September). At the same time, people on New Jersey unemployment lists don’t have to prove that they are actively looking for a job.

“It’s not unemployment, it’s vacation money,” said Anthony Braica, owner of La Cipollina Ristorante at Freehold. “You don’t help these people, you allow them.”

With a no-show from an employee, he said, the restaurant could be forced to close one or more tables. He believes that the current situation will force companies to increase prices with consumers in order to stay financially out of the water.

“Unless something is done it will be the worst summer in 35 years for us,” Braica said.

Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said employers, especially those in the retail and hospitality industries, are struggling to compete with enhanced benefits for residents. unemployed.

“This despite the fact that a job is long term, while unemployment benefits are not,” Siekerka said.

In New Jersey, people who “delay their job search until this natural emergency ends or goes away” are allowed to answer “yes” in order to certify weekly benefits.

The New Jersey Department of Labor notes that federal unemployment benefits end on September 4, from now on, and warns residents that it would be “unwise to refuse suitable work” for short-term gain of current benefits .

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]

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