Federal unemployment benefits end this weekend for nearly 9 million Americans.
While some families try to figure out what comes next, some local restaurant owners are hoping this helps reduce their worker shortage.
“It’s been mind boggling how the workforce hasn’t come back. I don’t know if it’s just the restaurant industry or other sectors as well, but I know the restaurant industry is having a tough time with this. Hopefully they’ll come back soon,” said Joey Busalacchi, assistant manager at Barbusa in Little Italy.
An employee shortage has forced restaurants like Barbusa to drastically cut their operating hours. Bussalachi is optimistic his staffing problems will be reduced once unemployment benefits are cut.
But he understands it’s not so simple.
Last year congress raised weekly jobless benefits by $600 a week, and later by $300 a week. Some in the business community argue the enhanced benefits are incentive to stay home, but economists say other factors play a role. Some workers went back to school. Others changed to more stable careers during the pandemic.
“It’s been tough for us to get kitchen employees. Front of house, back of house, everything,” said Busalacchi.
Some San Diegans are hoping benefits are extended again. The San Diego Event Coalition has been pushing for unemployment benefits to be extended, to help those in the events industry.
For restaurants, getting people back to work could make the difference between failing, and surviving.
"Hopefully we can get more workers in here, we’d love to open up for lunch and get back to our normal crowd. As soon as that happens we’ll be ready to rock and roll,” said Busalacchi.
Other aspects of pandemic assistance still exist including rental aid and the expanded child tax credit.