CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 100,000 North Carolinians are anxious, as the extended unemployment benefits come to an end Saturday.
Many people didn't want to see this day come. But business owners in Charlotte say it's time, as they too have seen their own struggles.
"It's difficult right now because of staffing issues," said Charles Read, owner of Queen City Craft and Gourmet.
Read says the kitchen is busy, but the process of hiring new employees has been sluggish.
"Being closed on Tuesday is the only way we get our guys a day off," he said.
Read says he's hopeful people who used the benefits will soon be looking for work, and he hopes potential hires walk into his doors.
"I'm optimistic. It can't hurt, I'm hoping it will help," Read said.
For the last 18 months, the federal government has granted an extra $300 to people who faced unemployment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states, like South Carolina, chose to end the federal benefits early to encourage more people to get back to work.
However, South Carolina and the 26 other states that ended the benefits early only saw a slight uptick in new hires. In fact, 7 out of 8 people didn't find work after benefits ended. Economic experts also predict the current labor shortage could last for up to another year.
"I think we're going to have to do better with paying people, so when they do go back to work they can really make the ends meet," U.S. Rep. Alma Adams said.
Read says he's willing to do that by offering better pay and benefits to his employees. He recognizes that's a key strategy to keeping workers around.
"It's important that we take care of our employees and give them a good quality of life so that the hours that we are open, we can maximize the amount of business we can do and really take care of our customers," he said.