News this week that U.S. jobless claims ticked up stands in stark contrast to a job market that is in desperate need of labor. This conflict in facts should spur both state and federal governments to reassess their assistance program as the country’s economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Help wanted signs are sprouting like weeds everywhere in the county and across the country. Businesses are already swamped with increased demand which they are finding difficult, if not impossible, to meet. The result is these businesses are cutting back on their operations, which will eventually cause a ripple effect on the market since reduced operations mean fewer employees will be needed, thereby putting more people out of work.

The recent conflict between RuckerJohns Restaurant and its landlord at Emerald Plantation shopping center, Emerald Isle, is a good example of the conflicts that are being created by government largesse.

The restaurant owners, concerned that the employees at both their Wilmington and Emerald Isle locations were overworked due to short staffing, opted to close on Sundays to give them a rest day. Debbie Rucker, co-owner of the restaurants noted that Sundays are usually very lucrative business days, but at the same time she and her partners knew that unless the restaurant staff was not given some relief, they would lose some of them either due to exhaustion or to a job with far less stress.

The result of this decision was a legal dispute with the Emerald Plantation landlord that only compounded the challenges for the restaurant owners and staff. That dispute has been settled and the restaurant will continue to close on Sunday. But the problem of staff shortages, a situation that other restaurants and businesses in the county are experiencing, remains.

Kathy Jasso, general manager of Trade Winds restaurant in Emerald Isle told News-Times reporter Brad Rich that the lack of complete and consistent staffing requires daily revision of the restaurants hours. “We have to game plan every day,” she said. “We try to be consistent every day but it is not easy.”

In the RuckerJohns case the real culprit is the federal government, which created an incentive for many Americans to not seek employment, offering lucrative unemployment compensation of $600 per week just to sit around and supposedly look for jobs.

A recent AP article noted that “employers are posting job openings faster than applicants can fill them.” In April a record 9.3 million help want ads were posted, a 12% increase over the number posted in March. And yet unemployment claims remained high and, as announced this week, have risen.

As is typical of elected officials who are always looking to satisfy voters so as to assure a successful re-election campaign, money is always the first solution. And in the case of the lost jobs resulting from government mandated business closures, Congress has pumped money into the unemployment programs to support the millions of laid-off workers.

But the tide has changed and the country’s economy is rebounding as businesses reopen. Despite this rebound the federal government unemployment largesse continues to flow so the incentive remains for the unemployed to maintain the status quo of staying at home. Until these incentives are removed or reduced, fewer job openings will be filled and businesses will, as in the case of RuckerJohns, begin to reduce their operations. The reduction in hours and services will have a cascading effect on other businesses which will likewise reduce staff to meet the declining demands and the downward cycle will continue.

If the federal government will step out of the way and let the private market work as it is trying desperately to do, the country’s economy can grow at a sustainable level. But as long as the federal government keeps its proverbial finger on the job market scales, market disruptions will continue and eventually more, not fewer, will be forced back on the unemployment line.

It is well past time for government, state and national, to step out of the way and let the free market work.

(29) comments

mpjeep

Actually, in 2021 the federal unemployment amount was/is $300 per week.

noitall

There was a $900 go-back-to-work-bonus but it seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

drewski

I believe originally the added fed benefit was 600, that was cut to 300 when the reupped the benefit. 24? states including NC have dropped the fed benefit, So I am not sure blaming the feds for current conditions in NC has any basis in reality. Citing restaurants which typically pay extremely poorly, have high turnover, short staffing and daily schedule changes also seems a rather weak argument. I do beleive all this unemployment is set to end in sept. the law is you have to look for work, normally 2 jobs/ applications/ interviews per week. They are not going to force you into a job that makes less then you were making when you became unemployed. Perhaps the state govt would be wise to start tapering down the weekly benefits, and possibly ending them entirely in a staggered fashion. North Carolina provides just $216 each week on average to jobless workers and a fixed maximum of $350, 216 a week does not go far, not far at all. Avg rent on a trailer is about $650 add utils car/ gas etc..So the idea that the lazy are wooping it up on unemployment while the states employers struggle to find workers seems unlikely. Wages are low and pretty stagnent in eastern nc as well. There is a predictable disaster coming if they shut off the tap all at once in sept. A glut of workers scrambling to find ever fewer jobs.

Sandman

Looks like it’s time to start weening off the easy money and get folks back into the workforce. If you are disabled and can’t work then that’s understandable but if you are in good health and fully capable of working, then it’s time to get back into that frame of mind of earning your money and stop waiting for free hand outs.

noitall

ALL POWERS not specifically addressed in the Federal Constitution are reserved for the States - including North Carolina. AS Pogo said "I have seen the enemy and he is us." Small businesses will ultimately see an increase in their DUI account requirements so NC will be OK and everybody pays except those who caused the problem. Fair is fair???

mpjeep

I’m 100% sure some folks are using the Federal unemployment money as a way of not working, just like I’m 100% sure there are folks in need of this money.

I continually hear people whine about the Federal unemployment money keeping businesses from hiring employees. Plenty of folks coming across the border these days, so hire them.

The employers complaining the most about worker shortages are the ones that have depended on a largely disempowered, non-unionized, Black and Latino workforce that make low wages.

The governors who have withdrawn from federal UI benefits are complaining benefits are holding back their recovery because employers cannot find workers. They ignore the fact that the money from federal benefits flows into local businesses through consumer spending,

Hey, most folks voted for heavy-handed government overreach, so quit complaining and deal with it.

noitall

I am offended by being called a whiner.Pay is a function of skill. Always been that way and will always be that way. Undocumented cannot speak English and are poorly educated in math - fractions for one. Your simplistic solution to just hire them is completely wrong headed. Government has NO solution now or ever, and is of NO help except to their own bureaucratic structure. The worker shortage is being solved by automation - and being done so without whining.

beachmami13

[thumbup]

mpjeep

Hiring illegals….tongue-in-cheek, bro.

noitall

I do not hire illegals - never have. Quality and cheap don't come in the same box.

quicksand

So-low pay is resulting in less applicants? You don’t say! California burger chain “In n Out Burger” is able to pay their starting employees $17+/hr. and their combos are CHEAPER THAN HARDEE’S who is struggling to find employees at $10/hr. Capitalism at its finest? Employers are also now complaining that foreign workers they used to pay slave wages to are unwilling to work now. You don’t say!!

noitall

Foreign workers are who. Cucumber picking technicians or engineers?? Pay is for skill. Fairly easy to automate fast food. A tool and die maker will always command what ever pay he needs. It is not a racist thing. Get over it.

quicksand

The OBX, in particular KDH and Manteo areas-are full of foreign workers during the summer months. You will find them in grocery, beach and service stores. Working for minimum wage, they’ll accept jobs that others couldn’t possibly live on. Capitalism at its finest! Wealthy grocery store chains and corporate owned Hardee’s refuse to pay a living wage to those who make them wealthy. FACT….

quicksand

 Most of the OBX foreigners are Eastern European or Russians.

(Edited by staff.)

beachmami13

They are doing the same thing here and then paying for them to have a "student visa," yet work 60 plus hours. They also pay their housing. Companies like Food Lion are doing it to avoid having to hire locals as full time workers. I think it's about high time this area gets the real scoop on how a tourism related town works. They have benefited for YEARS from ppl who were foreign, illegal or willing to work low paying jobs just to stay in the area they grew up in and also benefit from getting food stamps, etc. Now that housing is getting so $$, no one wants to or can afford to work those low paid jobs. It's not about "lazy high schoolers" or "lazy people who shouldn't be paid well b/c they don't have more education." It's about those companies relying on low paid wages to foreign workers b/c they pay their housing, and low paid workers who are able to survive b/c of government benefits.

mpjeep

American Airlines had a big layoff last year. I know because my sister got laid off, but with a pretty good pkg deal. Now American says they are canceling some flights due to weather and shortages in their labor force. Hmm.

noitall

Airline profit depends on LOAD FACTOR OF AT LEAST 75%. or don't fly at all. Park them. Save money and Use the Grey Dog for a while - sleep in the woods.. This is the beginning of the fuel shortage caused by politics.

carteretresident

Tell her to pick herself up by her bootstraps

David Collins

Jeep is correct . According to the last election most voted for Harris/Biden . With that comes consequences . Consequences we all must live with . Definitely the weakest since Jimmy Carter and probably before that . Best of all , you ain’t seen nothing yet . Get back in about 6 months or so .

drewski

Laffs, yes it's biden Harris and the dems responsible for the abysmal employment situation in carteret county. Banging that blame the dems drum just never gets old.

mpjeep

Yep, as the story is about not being able to hire locally due to Federal (Biden/Harris) giving UI payments that provide folks with more money than if they were working. Correct again.

noitall

Carteret County and it's government is still lost in the woods. Community College credits transferred to major universities is one step. I attended a JC that was chartered in 1932 and offered university level work and transfer of credit. Putting up with an entrenched good-ole-boy network never gets old.

pops

Let’s take a detailed look at all this ‘government largess.’ I’m an automotive electronics engineer. If you drive anything 2008 or newer, you have either: four of my parts on your vehicle, four copies of my parts on your car, or software that does a crappy job of imitating my parts. If you drive anything from the late ‘80s forward you have another critical part for which I was part of that technologies introduction. In recent years, I have worked as a self-employed consultant, working part-time. I’m not quite old enough or rich enough to retire. I need to work another five years, at least. For a full time position (say, if I lived near Detroit) I could expect to command a salary in excess of 100K, should I find someone wiling to employ an older engineer. As a part timer, in an area with no automotive industry, I bill at $55-$65/Hr. Mostly, for out-of-town projects. Those gigs are becoming increasingly hard to find.

Pre-Covid, self-employed persons were not eligible for unemployment payments. In the spring of 2020, I accepted a position teaching Career Exploration at a new charter/vocational school. I.E. help the kids learn about skilled trades and decide what they were interested in pursuing. It paid only $45k, but passing on my skills is something I consider important. Should be fun. The job didn’t start until August, so I spent the spring/summer months helping a friend with his home improvement business. Covid UI benefits were available in those weeks when I didn’t work home improvement, so I did collect the $600 weekly federal benefit for about ten weeks in total. On average the home improvement work paid about the same. North Carolina contributed ZERO dollars.

Teaching began August 10, but Covid issues saw half the staff laid off at November 1. NC legislature provided funding to assure school budgets through the pandemic, but left distribution up to the Department of Education, who decided not to fund recent charter schools. They couldn’t get away with axing the established ones. Our school was recent and therefore lost funds. And, most all of the vocational teachers. The school maintained the english/math/etc. teachers to meet state requirements.) The school provided us papers stating explicitly that we were furloughed due to Covid issues, such that we could access unemployment.

North Carolina determined that my teaching service was worth $70/week. The federal benefit had, by then dropped to $300. They apparently concluded that I was ineligible for the federal benefit. My after tax payment was about $68/week.

Fortunately, three weeks later, a local engineering company found themselves specifically in need of work I had done in the past year (programming and integrating electric drive and battery systems.) It was six-months-to-hire through a body shop (who typically takes a 30-40% cut.) Still, it netted $48/Hr. That lasted for two months. I completed the preliminaries only to find that one vendor’s product had problems and they did not wish to solve them. This eliminated the employers need for my services.

This time, North Carolina calculated the value of my services at $32/Wk. They even let me have the federal this time, for an after tax payment of $288. Of course that program ended in May. In total, I received four payments totaling about $1100.

Suffices to say that unemployment payments in North Carolina, even with federal supplements, are no incentive to ‘avoid work.’ They’re a f______ INSULT!

Federal benefits have since been renewed, with a work search option. Sorry folks, but opening for my skills, within commuting range, are perhaps 3 to 4 a year, not three a week! Thus I will continue performing home improvement for the benefit of myself and family members that would otherwise cost 3-4 times what I can make with available jobs. My wife, a laboratory technologist at a local hospital, keeps us afloat - in part performing Covid tests. She is due for a break, so I’ll keep looking for opportunities.

We eat out frequently. I try to be a generous tipper. My older brother was in the restaurant business for years. I know personally that it is hard work and thankless (very poorly paid) work. I have nothing but sympathy for those who have no other choice but to work such jobs. The longer they can hold out and put the screws to corporate America, the better!

How may of you folks inconvenienced by short restaurant staff are willing to do the job for their pay? And what would it do to your life style to accept such a wage. To quote a popular old guy “pull the log from your own eye…”

mpjeep

Great comments, pops. You are exactly right and thanks for posting.

David Collins

No , I did not limit it to Carteret county , you did . I was casting a much wider net .

We now live in the age of shortages , some severe indeed that are affecting our nations defense capabilities . From submarines to fighter jets lack of parts for cyclic maintenance is grounding them . From materials shortages that affects building these parts to the folks that actually construct and install them . Still on Covid unemployment and likely to stay there till it runs out . Yes some of them are union workers and they do follow union edicts . Just the way it works and I have a family member that runs his own Beltway bandit company that will tell anyone the same thing . People love free stuff and now there seems to be no end of free stuff coming from the White House and it is really hurting him . He a Harris/Biden supporter . Ironic indeed .

drewski

Corporate America will grind you to a pulp, squeeze the last drop of life out of you, then discard you like a snotty kleenex.

If then can time it properly as they often do it will be minutes before your retirement. Pension? Why bankruptcy solves that. Look at recent Briggs and Stratton " reorganization" they couldn't pay debts.. but did manage 5 mil in bonuses to senior execs right before the curtain fell.

The wealthy support a pro business gop. Less taxes for them, less wages and benefits for you.

noitall

Robotic CNC machining a complete Briggs engine in one setup with a tool and die maker skill while he is eating his lunch. is possible and is the way things will go.CHECK NASAR ENGINES. Raise corporate flat minimum income tax to 25% and see what happens. Add "none of the above" to the voting list. Politics of all kinds would change. gET A COPY OF Sinclair lEWIS "IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE" TEACH IT IN HISTORY.

drewski

As always we have the red and blue view, an objective observer would wonder if they live in the same state or are talking about the same subject. States that have a low cost of living also have low wages. As comparatively wealthy folks move in to the area, housing costs rise, more schools are required taxes rise, wages stay the same,for the working poor in service jobs. When this happens is a city it is called "gentrification" the poor are pushed ever further out. They have to commute ever further to their low paying jobs. Zoning will change to ever bigger house sizes, mobile homes will be deemed unfit and no new ones allowed and old ones will be condemned and removed. ( look at e/i over last 40 years) ..

(Edited by staff.)

noitall

Could happen only if we drive this country over the cliff. 30 drays with no fuel or food and then blue and red begin to act like adults??? Wages are part of the cost of everything - including inept government.

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