Workers Wanted…Like…Really Wanted

By Jeffery Bellant June 10, 2021 295

The pandemic is receding, businesses are opening up and the government is spending – and spending – and spending.

The current debate is why employment numbers are not as strong as they should be.

As vaccination rates rise and coronavirus infections drop, it seems like now is the time to get back to work.

Heck, even here in Michigan – Lockdown Central – I see my local supermarket and 7/11 have dropped the mask requirement for vaccinated people.

Yet “Help Wanted” signs in Metropolitan Detroit are as ubiquitous as cicadas on the East Coast. 

There seems to be a debate over whether the extra $300 federal unemployment payments are causing people to stay home rather than go back to work.

Many states are even ending federal unemployment benefits early over concerns they are stifling job growth.

The White House argues against that theory but, from where I’m at, it’s hard to ignore.

Rocky, the owner of Empire Grill where I’m at in Sterling Heights, Mich., has been frustrated for months over his inability to find waitresses to work.

That blows me away. Waitresses? I thought that was the easiest job to fill, because I know so many family members and friends who worked as waitresses in the past. (See actor Harvey Keitel’s defense of waitresses in the NSFW opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” In the scene, actor Steve Buscemi argues against tipping, but I think he’s just cheap). 

My mom worked waitress jobs as far back as I can remember and those jobs helped put food on the table after my parents divorced.

But it’s not just restaurants.

Aldi’s, a discount grocery store chain with stores near my home has a sign offering $14 per hour and full benefits.

The local McDonalds is also offering $14-per-hour and – get this – a $500 signing bonus!!

As a sports fan, I always wanted to get a signing bonus.

You probably heard the story in Miami where a McDonalds was offering $50 for people just to show up for an interview.

Something doesn’t sound right.

One of my family members, the least political person I know, is a what we used to affectionately call a “shop rat.” I know, it’s all offensive now.

He is in an “essential” industry and while his work shut down for a short time to establish new safety protocols, the shop didn’t take much time off.

A few of his co-workers were livid that they weren’t laid off. They wanted to be on unemployment.

Now, I get it. If someone gets the same amount of money – or more – for sitting, it’s tempting. But my brother was baffled.  

We grew up in a time where unemployment was not appealing and our concern was always having a job.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. It used to be, if you lost your job, you had to fill out loads of paperwork and stand in the unemployment line every two weeks to get your check. You had to prove you were looking for a job and/or take workshops on resume-writing, etc.

Now, it’s done by phone and there’s no waiting in line (although there is waiting on hold).

Also, there really isn’t a standard for unemployment benefits at this time. For example, I think if someone’s been working full-time for years, has dependents and loses her job, that person should get the full amount of unemployment benefits.

But I have a friend whose teenage son got his first job at a movie theater a few months before the shutdown and that kid was living large through the pandemic. That doesn’t seem fair.

As of this writing, I heard that half the states are rescinding the extra federal unemployment and half are not

This might be the best way to measure if the extra stay-at-home money is hindering job growth.

Either way, I’m hoping for a strong recovery.

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Last modified on Thursday, 10 June 2021 21:58