Businesses still struggling to find people to work despite high unemployment numbers

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 7:40 AM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - Millions of people remain out of work, but businesses everywhere are struggling to hire people. It’s an issue that’s affecting several industries, especially restaurants and bars.

Bacchus on the Beach in Pass Christian is just one of many businesses where applicants are canceling interviews or just not showing up at all.

”You’ll have people interview and (we’ll) say, ‘Okay, come back tomorrow,’ and then they won’t show up,” said CJ Lessab, the general manager at Bacchus. “You think they are coming in. You think the spot is filled and then they’re not there.”

Management remains hopeful they can hire more workers but say the lack of employees is because so many are choosing to remain home for one reason or another.

”I guess the unemployment thing is one thing,” said Lessab. “I mean, they’re getting paid regardless so stay home and cash a check or come work. They make that choice.”

As of the end of March, more than 3.7 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits, the government said. If you include supplemental federal programs that were established last year to help the unemployed endure the health crisis, a total of 18.2 million are receiving some form of jobless aid as of March 20.

The executive chef at 200 North Beach in Bay St. Louis said he isn’t surprised that restaurants are struggling to get fully staffed.

”This is a very very tough business. It’s hardship for a lot of businesses right now. I just hope and pray that everything gets back to normal,” said Executive Chef Bernard Carmouche.

Restaurants and bars are not the only places affected by the pandemic and looking for more help. Hollywood Casino hosted a job fair Monday to try and reinforce their workforce.

”Coming out of COVID, we want to make sure we have the message out there that we are hiring. We are accepting applications and we have a lot of jobs to give, and we’re excited to give them,” said Ashley Ellis, Director of Food and Beverage for Hollywood Casino.

As of February, Mississippi had an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, which is just under the national average of 6.6 percent. Harrison County reported the second highest number of unemployed residents in the state at the end of February.

Hollywood Casino will have a few more job fairs this week as they try to hire more workers. Their next one on site will be Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m.

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