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Workers Needed: Are Extended COVID Benefits To Blame?



Both Luke 10:2 and Matthew 9:35-37 quote Jesus as saying that the harvest is ready, but the laborers are few.

Employers in Ste. Genevieve County and across the nation are having a similar problem some 2,000 years later.

Restaurants are having a particularly difficult time.

“As an owner of a business, I’m struggling to find employees to work,” said Jami Inman, owner of Cafe Genevieve. “I know almost every restaurant in Ste. Genevieve is looking for workers.”

Many believe the extended unemployment benefits and stimulus checks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to potential workers opting to stay home and collect that money.

“I think the reason is, they’re getting extra unemployment and they’re making more money by saying at home,” said Rosie Huck, manager of the Old Brick House Restaurant. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t do that. If you’re making more money staying at home than you are if you went out and got a job,  it’s the reason they don’t want to work.”

“I do believe that has to have something to do with it,” Inman said. “There are a lot of places in Ste. Genevieve looking for people and I just can’t see that that can’t be a reason for some of it.”

She said she suspects things will improve when Missouri Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) ends Sept. 6.

“I think there will be a lot more people getting out,” she said.

“Every company, business owner I talk to, has had trouble getting people to come back, the restaurants, the private clubs,” Ste. Genevieve County Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said. “People can make twice as much money at home.

“Why would they go back?”

Workers reaching middle age often begin to consider their Social Security withholdings and how much  their annual contribution to the pot will allow them to collect each month after retirement. Younger workers, Nelson believe, have not yet started to consider things like this.

“Mostly the younger half of the population’s not looking at retirement later on down the road,” he said. “They’re too young to think about it. They want that money right now.”

Midway Bar & Grill near Weingarten raised people’s eyebrows when it closed  down for about one week this spring, for the first time in 18 years. A pair of signs were posted on the door, “Closed until we can better serve our customers – sorry for the inconvenience,” and “Closed until further notice due to lack of help.” 

“We shut down and regrouped and had some meetings on what we were going to do to try to fill the voids that we had,” owner Keith Bieser said.