By Mika Rotunda

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Government issued pandemic unemployment compensation in the state of Florida ends on June 26, 2021. Bar and restaurant owners in St. Pete share their reactions to the news, some hope the labor shortage will resolve itself once the funding comes to a close.

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Tom Golden, the owner of The Lure in downtown St. Pete hopes to finally receive applications to fill some much needed staffing positions. He feels the end to the pandemic benefit will urge people back into the job market in search of a steady paycheck.

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Josh Cameron, owner of Oyster Bar & Crafty Squirrel echoed those sentiments, adding “we’re looking forward to getting back to full scale.” He believes though, there is more to the issue than simply the benefits. “I think it might be a little bit bigger. I know when you just take a very black and white look at it, it’s very easy to say ‘hey… this is the reason’. But I know, it’s a lot of things.”

Cameron points to the lack of proper training and education which may be a cause of the labor shortage. “So when I look at the hospitality industry in America and especially the food sort of situation, it is a skill. We need the local institutions to start tooling-up our staff, start getting those people that are interested in the industry — to give them the tools that they actually need to succeed.”

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He adds that the inability to provide that training effects employees desire to work. “One of the hardest things being a small owner, operator — when you are understaffed, the hardest thing to have is spare time to train the upcoming generations. So it’s definitely a good opportunity for the city to get with the county to get with the state, to really get some wheels in motion.”

Meanwhile, Golden says right now is the best time to get a job if you’re looking for one since so many are available. He adds, “Now that money is being cut off, there’s still some great jobs out there, a lot of places in downtown [are] now hiring. You can walk into a lot of places and get a job.”

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Both owners agree that the funding being lifted at the end of June should help them return to something resembling normal operations in a post-pandemic world.