In their Words: How the unemployment boost hurts small businesses

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More than 140,000 businesses have closed permanently thanks to the COVID-19 shutdowns. The businesses that were fortunate enough to weather the shutdown are facing a new struggle: competing with government welfare over their employees.

With a weekly $600 unemployment boost in the CARES Act, many workers are making far more in stay-home pay than they ever did with take-home pay. This leads small business owners in an awkward place, having to beg their employees to come back. Nearly two-thirds of small business owners fear that their employees will not return due to this boost.

Fortunately, this boost comes with an expiration date. As Congress debates how to move forward with the next round of COVID-19 stimulus, it’s vitally important that they remove this financial disincentive to work.

Refusing to go back to work has very real consequences. Here are a few stories from businesses struggling to survive:

Symeon’s Greek Restaurant

Symeon’s Greek Restaurant in Utica, New York is struggling to stay open. The owner, Symeon Tsoupelis, Jr. cannot find enough workers to fill needed positions. He needed to lay off 55 of his employees, and many are now reluctant to come back because they’re making more money through the unemployment boost.

Moonbow Tipple Coffee & Sweets

Sky and Geoff Marietta’s new Kentucky coffee shop, Moonbow Tipple Coffee & Sweets, was only open for a few months before the government forced them to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before closing, their jobs were in high demand in the Appalachian community. Now, the people they hired just months ago are asking to be laid off because it makes more financial sense for them to not work at all.

Canine Crews

Catherine Crews owns Canine Crews, dog day care and boarding facilities in the Chicago suburbs. Although her hourly pay is competitive, she only had five laid-off employees out of 27 willing to return to work.

For more stories from businesses trying to survive the shutdown, click here.