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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Businesses across the Louisville area are facing a worker shortage.

Right now, a lot of businesses, especially restaurants, have the help wanted signs posted, but owners are struggling to find workers and believe it's because potential employees are making more money collecting unemployment.

One of those owners, Michael Wickliffe of Wick’s Pizza, said his business has bounced back from the pandemic, but these days, good help is hard to find.

”Nobody has wanted to come back and get any work since that big stimulus went out,” he said. “No one wants to come to work anymore."

Wickliffe, who said he's working 80 hours a week, said he's down kitchen employees and an assistant manager at two locations.

Daniel Withrow, CEO of CSS Distribution Group Inc., said he’s focused on recruiting and maintaining good employees. But, like a lot of employers, he said he can't find workers.

"We have posted jobs in a variety of places,” Withrow said. "We've even gone through staffing companies and we just can't get more than two full-time workers."

Withrow’s company distributes pallets and packaging to customers across the country. 

"We pay very well, have great benefits, and it's a good place to work," he said.

Both Wickliffe and Withrow said despite competitive wages and benefits, it's hard to beat the federal unemployment benefits.

"I start off everybody in the kitchen at $12 to $13 an hour," Wickliffe said.  "If you're working 40 hours at $15 an hour, it's $600 a week. And if you get $300 unemployment and $300 extra, and you're getting all that in cash, it's not worth coming and working 40 hours a week.”

Later this month, Indiana will join a handful of Republican-led states that will end the federal unemployment programs. This week, some organizations that advocate for Kentucky businesses asked Gov. Andy Beshear to do the same.

"To cut this, these payments — that are not only stimulating our economy in such an incredible way but are also helping those that are really struggling — you know, would be a major mistake," Beshear said.

Neither Wickliffe nor Withrow have given up, but they’re not very confident anything will change.

“We had to close early for like three weeks. I had to close at 8 o'clock and turn off DoorDash and Grubhub, because I didn't have enough employees to staff my kitchen," Wickliffe said. "So it was just me, my manager and two people in the kitchen.

"No one can compete against the government."

Right now, those federal unemployment benefits are scheduled to end on June 19 in Indiana and Sept. 6 in Kentucky.

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