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Business owners hope to see staffing boost after Ohio ends federal unemployment assistance

by Haley Nelson Thursday, May 13th 2021

“First, we should call this what it is. This is threatening people with poverty if they aren’t willing to work for poverty wages. If folks are having trouble finding workers maybe they should pay them a living wage. It’s time for a $15 minimum wage.”

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — If you see empty tables, some bar and restaurant owners hope you won’t jump to conclusions.

“Understand that we are dealing with a lack of staff and are trying to get by,” Prohibition owner Elton Sargent said. 

Many have come to ABC /FOX 28 with concerns about staffing, but a move from the state has owners like Sargent feeling hopeful.

“We just can’t get staff to come in and work and ramp us up for the summer when patios open and we have some ability to expand in the parking lot to get creative and do some things to stay afloat,” he said. “But, the removal of the $300 bonus might get more people to work.”

The state will soon stop participating in extra federal unemployment assistance, $300 a week.

This doesn’t mean unemployment goes away, just the $300 boost at the end of June. Business owners hope to see staffing boost after Ohio ends federal unemployment assistance

It’s bringing in a lot of reaction, so ABC6/FOX28 went to local restaurants.

Just across the street from Prohibition at Huli Huli, they are feeling a similar crunch as construction is underway on a permanent outdoor patio space.

“We noticed that as far as our business model, it was a huge driver for revenue,” Nik Wolford, the bar manager, said. “We do need to make sure that we are getting our staffing levels up.”

Vittoria on Sawmill Parkway hasn’t dealt with staffing issues.

They are keeping a focus on safety.

“We have been very lucky with help everybody came back as soon as we reopened,” Nick Lalli said. “Even though when restrictions are lifted, we are still following protocols. No one is coming into work sick, temperatures are still taken, so we are still following those guidelines as a whole.”

At Prohibition, the owner hopes to have enough staff to staff all outdoor areas soon.

“By the time that June 2 date rolls around I would love to have enough to have a patio open and up and running, but the biggest concern right now is the people who have missed us for months and have been a big supporter of us for years, I don’t want them to come back and have a poor service experience,” he said.

Some Ohio Democrats said this shows just how out of touch the Ohio GOP is with Ohio families that people are in need.

State Representative Dave Leland, a Democrat representing Columbus sent us this statement, writing:

“First, we should call this what it is. This is threatening people with poverty if they aren’t willing to work for poverty wages. If folks are having trouble finding workers maybe they should pay them a living wage. It’s time for a $15 minimum wage.”

ABC6/FOX28 talked with Lt. Governor Jon Husted and asked him about critiques of the move. Are the issues with Ohio jobs if some people would prefer or be better off on unemployment?

Here’s part of his answer:

“Look it is bad policy to pay people to stay home. It is bad policy to make employers compete with the government for a workforce, and look if there were not a lot of good-paying jobs out there, we would not be making this decision,” said Lt. Governor Husted.

Ohio’s unemployment system now goes back to pre-pandemic status.

Read the original article here.

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