Kentucky residents receiving unemployment benefits will again be required to prove that they are actively looking for employment.
Gov. Andy Brasher suspended the requirement during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Starting Sunday, those receiving unemployment benefits will now again be required to prove that they applying for jobs.
Local restaurateur Ben Skiadas said that while his restaurants, Lure Seafood Grille and Famous Bistro, are busy again, he is having a hard time hiring additional staff.
“We are hiring at this time, and it does seem like a more challenging market to hire in right now, but we are also expanding and the business is growing,” he said Tuesday.
Skiadas said now that COVID-19 mandates are being relaxed or lifted, more and more people are enjoying a night out at their favorite local restaurants. While that is a positive thing, he said, he has some concerns about the lack of service industry professionals actively applying for jobs.
“I don’t know that it is specifically because of one factor,” he said. “A lot of people are saying that people are just sitting on unemployment.
“Well, there is a reality in the service industry that there are people that don’t want to be in public, especially dealing with people’s glassware, plates and knives and forks. I think that is a factor.”
Another factor could be the number of service industry professionals that left the industry due to the crippling economic effect the pandemic had on the industry, he said.
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn Vice-President Patrick Bosley said he is currently hiring for about every position at the restaurant.
“I don’t know who has not had a challenge with staffing, from factories to restaurants and everything in between,” Bosley said Tuesday.
Despite the fact that he is currently hiring, Bosley said he does not anticipate that the reinstated search for work requirement will translate to more employees.
“I think we will get people who are looking for a job because they have to be looking for a job, but they don’t want a job,” he said.
Bosley said people need motivation to return to work, and when someone can make as much or more money from unemployment benefits than they would working, it creates a difficult situation.
“You have people whose jobs were eliminated because of COVID-19 and the government stepped in to help, which is not a bad thing, but at some point, they have to go back to work.”
“The jobs are no longer eliminated,” he said. “There are jobs available.”
Skiadas said what he is most concerned about is taking care of his employees, some of whom have worked for him for more than a decade.
“I don’t want them to experience burnout from us being too busy and not having enough people,” he said. “It is a complex situation and I don’t know what the ultimate answer is.”
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-228-2837