Restaurant industry sees spike in job applications as unemployment benefits come to an end

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – This is the last week unemployed Americans will receive an extra $600 in their unemployment check.

The coronavirus relief program technically doesn’t expire until July 31, but this week will be the last for which benefits are paid — because payments are only provided for weeks ending on either Saturday or Sunday.

As the benefits program comes to an end, the restaurant industry is seeing a sudden uptick in job applications.

On Federal Hill, there are more than 200 job openings.

“There was a crush to need employees. and unfortunately, that crush did not come back. People did not come back,” said Rick Simone, the Executive Director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association.

He said some employees were not comfortable with coming back to work during the pandemic, but for others, it was a different story.

“We soon found out that a majority of the people were not coming back because they felt they were better off collecting the extra $600 that they were getting as part of the federal unemployment,” said Simone. “When employees were outright telling the owners ‘I’m not coming back because I’m making more money being out,’ it’s a hard thing to swallow.”

The restaurant owners hoped that when the benefit ended, employees would come back.

“That’s exactly what we’re seeing now,” said Simone. “All of a sudden, since Monday, there’s been an uptick in people applying for jobs.”

The Thirsty Beaver Cranston has also struggled to get employees back to work.

“It was a slow start,” said managing partner Justin Erickson. “Some people came back. Some people didn’t.”

They’re still short in their kitchen staff. But that could change in just a few days.

“We started getting applications a couple of days ago. More and more people were asking for applications,” said Erickson. “We’re hoping with unemployment ending, we’ll be back to full staff and we’ll be back to full business.”

Congress is currently looking at the possibly extending the unemployment benefit, but at a lower rate, somewhere between $100-$400 a week.

Categories: Coronavirus, Cranston, News, Politics, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island