INDIANAPOLIS — For months, hiring issues have plagued the hospitality industry. Some area businesses blame pandemic unemployment benefits changes for their issues. Moving forward all Hoosiers will have to show they are trying to get work to receive benefits.
“This will help but not solve our solution,” said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA.) “That may occur more in mass where we have a lot of applicants, but people will be able to take positions.”
Governor Eric Holcomb put the change into effect on Tuesday. Normally unemployed workers have to show they are trying to get a job, however that was waived during the pandemic. Hospitality leaders in Indiana believe the changes will help, but they remain skeptical.
Some businesses have been plagued with applicants not showing up for interviews. These issues range from entry level jobs to management level positions.
“We have many cases where we have a significant job posting, a nice $40,000 to $50,000 to $80,000 a year with full benefit capabilities, and people not applying,” detailed Tamm.
InRLA says wages across the board are rising to promote more hiring, and that includes tip wage.
“We don’t pay our employees $2.13 an hour because we ran numbers, and we want to make sure they are making enough money to pay bills,” says Ruth Hawkins, manager at Baby’s restaurant. “In some ways it’s been positive for the industry because there are some restaurants that treat people like they are expendable, and it’s like, ‘Oh, if I lose you today I’ll have six people to replace you tomorrow.’ That is no longer true.”
Hawkins says it is extremely difficult to find experienced help as some hospitality industry workers found work in other industries or are not returning until there is demand. Baby’s servers and bartenders earn a strong portion of their pay from tips. Hawkins sympathizes with some workers who did not want to return until the demand was strong, or until they had adequate child care.
“I think there was a lot of negative about restaurant workers living on unemployment,” believed Hawkins.”Not enough people were going out to eat and tipping to make up that minimum.”
However, InRLA says times are changing.
“Restaurants outside of Marion County are often competing with and beating their 2019 sales figures on a week to week basis,” added Tamm.
Later this month, unemployed Hoosiers will stop receiving the additional unemployment checks of $300 dollars a week. The hope is workers will be more inclined to return to work after that.