Business owners say COVID-19 impact lingers, hard to find employees

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During a discussion at the University of Kentucky Thursday, several business owners agreed one of the biggest problems is getting employees.05/06/2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The economy is showing signs of returning to some sense of normal. Many local governments have seen better-than-expected tax revenues, but much of those increases have come from federal stimulus money. Business owners say they are being negatively impacted due to federal unemployment money.

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“You all have all shared it were absolutely frightening,” Aaron Anderkin, president of Integrated Sign & Graphic in Lexington said. “From day to day you didn’t know if you were going to be open.”

Business owners reflected on the past year and often referred to it as somewhat of a roller coaster.

“The reality was we didn’t know,” Anderkin said. “We were waiting just like everybody at 4:00 every day.”

Now, things have a semblance of normalcy, but they say the negative impacts are still lingering.

During a discussion at the University of Kentucky Thursday, several business owners agreed one of the biggest problems is getting employees.

“We’ve got seven positions that we’ve been unable to fill as those positions were vacated either because of fear or now because of the benefits of staying home,” Adam Hinton, VP of Hinton Mills in Flemingsburg said.

They say federal unemployment benefits are too appealing.

“We have been beneficiaries of the PPP loan and are actually very appreciative of that, but we also are afraid, based upon our market research, the long term ramifications are going to be significant,” Anderkin said.

A few miles away, the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa hosted a job fair. It was one of three in the past month.

Sarah Thacker said hiring people has been struggle just like any other business, but not as much.

“We’ve been really successful and we’re a really large property, so we’ve been able to do a great job and we’re really competitive pay,” Thacker said.

Thacker said furloughed employees to return that hasn’t been too much of a problem either. She said many employees have worked there for decades, and even former employees are lining up to get their jobs back.

But others who aren’t so fortunate hope to see changes. Some of that could start May 9 when workers seeking unemployment benefits have to certify they’ve been looking for jobs.

Employers hope that may drive some people back into the work force.