Katrina Benefits Run Out, Some Employers Say "Good" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Katrina Benefits Run Out, Some Employers Say "Good"

Some local business owners believe finding employees will be easier now that thousands of out-of-work people have had their benefits cut off.

On Saturday, the federal government stopped Disaster Unemployment Assistance payments for approximately 12,000 Mississippians. Until now, people who lost their jobs because of Katrina had been receiving $210 a week.

Even with the long, hard hours put in by the waitresses and cooks at Lil' Ray's in Gulfport, the restaurant is still feeling the effects of understaffing.

"We've got a lot of work here available and we can't fill the spots," said owner David Kidd. "I'm trying to get open at night. I still can't open at night. We're closing at 3:30 p.m. every day because we can only run one shift. I'm working my staff as much as I can and as much as I want to work them. "

The owner was advertising for employees. He stopped. He says it was a waste of money with so many people choosing to draw checks from the government rather than go to work.

"The unemployment, I understand, was meant to satisfy some needs of people. But I think it's been abused by a lot of people who have taken advantage of the system, chose to not work and collect the unemployment," said Kidd.

In Biloxi, Classy Chassis has also had trouble putting people on the payroll.

Manager Allen Lee said "It's been very difficult. Incredibly difficult. No employees. No Applications. Nothing."

Summertime has helped bring in students to for part-time positions. The manager now hopes the expiration of disaster unemployment benefits will bring in some full-time workers.

"I think people just riding, riding the money," said Lee. "I think it's good that they finally expired. People need to get out there and work and businesses along the Gulf Coast - Dominoes, Classy Chassis - need employees."

Lil' Ray's owner says he expects the applications to start rolling in during the next few days, but he only wants to hire people who value working.

Kidd said, "There were a lot of people who could have been working that chose not to and we don't want them working for us either. We'll take our time and make our choice and get the right people in here."

by Danielle Thomas

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