For some GarCo business owners, CARES Act not stimulating hiring

Business owners say people make more money by not working and don't want a job

Summit Canyon Mountaineering employee Sarah Balukoff helps two customers try on shoes at the shop on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Bolstered unemployment insurance might be making it difficult for local businesses to fill needed positions.

Until the measure expires Friday, the federal CARES Act allotted an extra $600 per week to those collecting unemployment in addition to what the state benefit would normally be. The Trump administration and Congress are currently in negotiations for a second economic aid package, which could include the boosted unemployment insurance in one form or another.

“What you’re up against is the number of people that are making more unemployed than they are working,” said Aaron Badolato, owner of Sweet Coloradough in Glenwood Springs. “Why would somebody go back to work if they can make more money not working?”

At the Business Base Camp at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on July 23, Christian Henny, Hotel Colorado general manager made similar observations.

“I’d like to relay the challenges we are having in regards to staffing,” he said. “According to the Denver Post recently, two-thirds of the unemployed are receiving more aid than they earned on their previous job. This is resulting in many open positions remaining unfilled during a time of record unemployment.”

The unemployment rate in Garfield County for June was 9.7%, which was a slight improvement from 10% in May, according to data emailed from Carolyn Tucker, regional business services coordinator for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Some people are gaming the system as well.

“We’re getting people coming in and they’re actually admitting, ‘I’m just checking the boxes so I can keep getting my unemployment,” Summit Canyon Mountaineering owner Carl Moak said.

Badolato has also tried offering a higher wage to no avail.

“I thought I could pay my way through it, but I’m a little frustrated. … If you pay somebody $20 per hour plus tips and they can’t show up on time, I don’t know what else I can do on my end,” Badolato said.

The business owners said the extra $600 was a mistake.

“I’m trying to figure out a situation where people don’t want to work; that’s just completely counterproductive,” Badolato said.

“I would like to see them end the extra $600. I think it’s not helpful,” Moak said.

They aren’t opposed to a little added compensation, though.

“I don’t mind a little bit of an extra unemployment boost,” Badolato said.

“I think what the Republicans have suggested makes sense to me: $200 and then transitioning to 70% of your normal pay,” Moak said.

Badolato suggested paying people extra to go back to work.

“They should say, ‘If you go back to work and you find a job — regardless of the job — we’ll pay you $300 extra per week,’ some way to incentivize people to go back to work,” Badolato said.

Instead, Badolato said, some people are taking government money and then protesting.

“I know 18 people right now that are all around the country protesting, and I know they’re all getting unemployment. And all they’re doing is traveling around like a music festival. Meanwhile, people are here working to pay for other people to play,” Badolato said.

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