TAMPA, Fla. - Their customers are back, but many restaurants and businesses across Florida say they need more workers to keep up with demand. They could soon see more applications start to come in thanks to the reinstatement of requirements to receive unemployment benefits.
Starting Tuesday, anyone receiving unemployment benefits will have to submit proof each week that they are actively looking for work. In the Bay Area, that means submitting at least five applications each week and registering with local career source centers.
The labor shortage in the hospitality industry has caused several restaurants to scale back hours and shifts.
"Throughout the last year, we’ve definitely changed our hours a little bit," said Carmine’s general manager Frank Sierra. "We’ve also done away with Tuesday dinner service."
Sierra said the last two weekends have been extremely busy in Ybor with back-to-back parades. He’s hopeful that by reinstating job search rules, more people will move off of unemployment and back into the workplace.
"I think it’s going to put a lot more people to work. It’ll obviously fill some of those positions that are in demand. Business six months ago wasn’t really demanding, so if you had somewhat of a shorter staff you were able to get by and everything was fine but I think this might boost people as business picks up," said Sierra. "I think it’ll help people out with more applicants."
Job search requirements for unemployment benefits were suspended last year when Florida saw a record number of people laid off at the same time. As businesses shut down, few jobs remained to even apply to, which is why Governor Ron DeSantis suspended the search requirement in April 2020.
Now hundreds and thousands of those jobs are back, but few people are applying.
"It’s definitely been more challenging than normal, you know, in a typical, normal setting for hiring whenever you put a job posting out you almost always have an overwhelming amount of applicants. Lately, we’ve been putting some ads out getting a hit here or there," said Sierra.
Another big factor in the labor shortage: unemployment benefits.
Right now, those on unemployment in Florida can receive up to $275 from the state and $300 from the federal government each week. That’s more than $14 an hour when calculating for a 40-hour workweek. Many businesses, especially restaurants, say they just can’t match that.
The federal unemployment benefits are set to expire in September, but Florida is among a growing number of states that have moved to reject federal dollars early.
As of June 26, Floridians will no longer receive the extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits each week.