CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of thousands of Americans have relied on unemployment benefits are the COVID-19 recession, but those additional federal benefits are set to expire on September 5th. This means most people receiving unemployment will start getting $300 less, and some gig workers and freelancers will stop getting it altogether -- just like pre-pandemic.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 943,000 jobs in July. According to the NC Department of Commerce, North Carolina lost almost 900 thousand workers at the peak of the COVID-19 recession, but only a fraction of those workers looked for another job.
Now many of those workers will stop receiving additional unemployment benefits allotted to help during the pandemic in less than a month. In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster chose to end those benefits early -- on June 30th.
Now there are signs that overall things are going well in South Carolina. Gov. McMaster ended additional unemployment benefits on June 30th – since then unemployment claims in the state dropped by 60 percent, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Workforce and Employment.
Yet some businesses are still struggling to hire. Kevin Cooper, general manager at Danny's Pizza in Rock Hill, was hopeful earlier in the summer that cutting benefits would help fill openings. That hasn't happened for him yet.
“Before the pandemic, we were fully staffed," said Cooper, "We didn’t have turnover, we didn’t have people going to other places. We constantly had people come in wanting jobs.”
Cooper said now he is so short-staffed, he had to cut hours to just three days a week.
"I'm not sure why the applications aren't coming in," said Cooper, "It just stumbles me, like I just don't know."
He says it could be because school hasn't started yet and people are still on vacation.
There are many possible reasons as to why employees are choosing not to return to work, but if the workforce doesn’t rebound soon, some businesses may not make it.
“There is a need to be worried, because no matter if we have employees or not, we still have our rent, we still have our utilities,” Cooper said.
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