SOUTHINGTON, CT (WFSB) -- More people are being vaccinated, and more want to enjoy dining out, but restaurants and other places of business are having trouble finding workers.
One reason is that many are still getting unemployment and federal benefits. If they work too many hours, they could lose those benefits.
The state took another step toward pre-pandemic life as bars reopened over the weekend.
The federal benefits are set to expire in September, so many people might start coming back into the workforce at that time, but it doesn’t help the places that need help now.
“I have a lot of restaurants that are calling me saying ‘I can’t open Monday or Tuesday yet, I can’t stay open those later hours because I don’t have enough help, I don’t have enough workers to do that’,” said Scott Dolch, of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
For example, the Aqua Turf in Southington is starting to make a comeback, but it’s struggling to find employees.
The pandemic was devastating for places like the Aqua Turf, which hosts weddings and other large events, but now things are starting to get better.
"All those types of events that went by the wayside was tough to handle," said Karen Alix, manager at the Aqua Turf Club.
They are getting some requests for prom events and weddings, but they need more staff and they’re having a tough time finding that.
“Normally I have a staff of about 80 to 90 to begin with, but I’d like to get some more back. I’ve reached out to some. Some have indicated yes, others say they are waiting to see what happens come September with unemployment and stuff like that," Alix said.
There are 180,000 people in Connecticut who are unemployed, and 23,000 of them were working in the food industry.
Those getting unemployment get a $300 federal supplement where you can work part time, but if two thirds of your weekly earnings or income exceed benefits, you could lose unemployment and the federal supplement.
An example could be if you get $200 of weekly earnings and earn $300 or more, you can lose unemployment and federal supplement, each person’s situation may be different.
The Department of Labor said surveys show there are other factors. Some don’t feel safe going back to work, and others have childcare issues.
Whatever the reason, finding employees could be a challenge this summer.
Some restaurants also only need part time workers because they don’t know how busy they are going to be.
When the federal supplement ends in September, there could be quite a few people re-join the workforce.