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Iowa will end pandemic related unemployment, businesses say it’s not enough to help with hiring crisis

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 7:22 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Thousands of Iowans are about to lose their federal unemployment benefits.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Iowa will no longer take part in a pandemic program as of mid-June. Business owners across the Omaha metro say it may not be enough to get people back to work.

“It’s critical. We have to close for the month so I can get some people hired,” says Elizabeth Pooley, Owner of Square Donut.

Many argue they can’t find workers because the federal government is giving some people an extra $300 a week and them to stay on unemployment longer.

So Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced those benefits will end in Iowa, tweeting “It’s time for everyone who can to get back to work.”

But businesses on both sides of the river say ending the payments may not be enough.

Joe Disalvo owns Dock Bar and Grill in Council Bluffs. He says because Nebraska hasn’t decided to end their aid, it’s hurting businesses like his.

“When you hire folks that have different rules, you know, in Nebraska if they still have it over there, you aren’t going to get any in the pool from that direction at all. So, you are going to be just in Council Bluffs.”

Elizabeth Pooley owns Square Donut in Omaha and her business has been devastated by the lack of employees.

She’s been forced to close for the month of May and she’s doing everything she can to get workers in the door, including upping wage to $18 an hour for bakers.

“We are offering so much more for an unskilled worker whereas before, they would need experience. I don’t know what it’s going to do. I don’t know if it’s going to drive more people back into taking the jobs they are getting offered or if we are going to be lowering the bar for skillsets with more pay and when it all evens out… how will it wash out?”

Pooley says ending benefits may help a little bit but it won’t fix the problem. She says she is remaining hopeful for the time being.

“I hope it makes a difference in this. I don’t know if it will because I do think there are so many other issues in what’s going on. But if that’s one we can check off the list, there might be a little prayer there for the restaurant business.”

Gov. Ricketts office wouldn’t say if he intends to end the federal benefits in Nebraska.

Just this afternoon the governor of Missouri announced his state will no longer take part come mid-June.

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