TAMPA, Fla. - These days, restaurants in the business of filling tables are also looking to fill jobs. One of those restaurants is the J.C. Sandwich Shop in Tampa.
“We have two openings for the front counter prep line and one opening in the kitchen,” said Jack Carrillo, who has owned the eatery for 19 years.
Like many other places, help-wanted signs tell the story. As restaurants try to recover economically from COVID-19, they are seeing customers return, but not employees.
Carrillo believes unemployment benefits are part of it.
“Because of the unemployment, how people could make more on unemployment than they could their weekly wage here, or anywhere for that matter, they just chose unemployment over coming back to work," he wondered.
Recently, unemployed workers began receiving $300 per week in addition to regular benefits from President Trump’s executive order for lost wages assistance. That was down from the initial $600 a week approved by Congress in the CARES act.
But so far, reduced benefits haven’t driven people back to work.
The unemployment rate in the Tampa Bay Area increased last month to just over 10%.
Carrillo says he can’t blame workers who choose not to come back.
“No fault to them, it’s just how the system is,” he said.
But the lagging hospitality industry is part of why Florida ranked fourth from the bottom in a survey of economic recovery by states.
“It’s hard to do what we do without having the manpower to do it,” Carrillo added.