Arkansas employers hoping people will return to workforce after unemployment benefits end

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Federal unemployment benefits ended over the weekend, but “we’re hiring” signs are still visible on the front of many Arkansas businesses.

It’s an empty kitchen at Damgoode Pies on Cantrell as owner Jeff Trine gets to work filling orders.

“There’s not many applications coming in,” Trine said.

He said it’s not just no applications but no shows.

“The last six interviews we’ve scheduled only one of them showed up and they ended up not taking the position after saying they were going to take the position,” Trine said.

The Little Rock restaurant is only operating out of one location.

“The Kavanaugh store is currently closed and the primary reason is that we can’t staff it,” Trine said.

While many businesses hoped the end of unemployment benefits would help boost the numbers of hires, Trine doesn’t think it’ll be that easy.

“I’ve heard it called the great resignation and people are just changing their minds about what they want to do or what their willing to do,” Trine said.

He said, especially in the service industry, working in a hot kitchen for little money isn’t a glamorous job.

“It is standing in front of a 500-degree oven five hours straight and an endless line of tickets. It can be brutal,” Trine said.

That’s why he’s now working to change his system.

“The biggest thing is of course pay more money,” Trine said.

He is now offering all employees $15 an hour and changing their tip system.

“We’ll split the tips amongst the whole company,” Trine said.

He hopes the changes create a better atmosphere for those behind the counter bringing more cooks to the kitchen and pushing more pies out the door.

“Our happiness is almost as important as the customer’s happiness,” Trine said.

The owner of Nexus Coffee and Creative says they are one of the few businesses that are fully staffed. They credit higher pay, a benefits package and providing an atmosphere where employees can continue to grow and move up the ranks.

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