Some businesses struggle to hire employees amid pandemic

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — While some businesses have shuttered their doors, others need more help.

“We could put on as many as 10 more folks part-time and full time both in the kitchen operation or in front of the house in the hospitality area,” said Firehouse Restaurant CEO Tom Seaton. “We probably have about 10% of the applications that we used to have that we rely on to get fully staffed for fall.”

Like many others in the service industry, his restaurant took a hit when the pandemic began.

“That side probably is putting a little bit more people at risk and worry and deciding to just collect unemployment as opposed to go back to work,” said Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership CEO Mitch Miller.

He says the demand for workers is so high, companies like A. O. Smith and LPI have increased wages.

“They’ve seen a lot of folks put in applications there to go in and go to work and so the demand is there so much to the point that wage rates have been increased,” Miller said.

On the other hand, the traditional pool for applicants in the areas just isn’t there.

“A lot of college students are not in their routines. There’s not as many on campus as there was before,” said Seaton.

Both Seaton and Miller said they expected more people to apply for jobs once the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ends. So, far that just hasn’t been the case.

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