Inland Empire businesses dealing with worker shortage ahead of state reopening

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- As California prepares to reopen next week, some Inland Empire business owners are grappling with a worker shortage, and they're blaming high unemployment benefits.

Mike Brewer, owner of the Sire Bar & Grill in Riverside, says wait times for customers might be a trouble spot because the restaurant is short on staff, especially in the kitchen, with some people preferring to make cash on the side to keep unemployment benefits.

Brewer said the benefits can work out to as much as $18.75 per hour, "so even if you're offering $20 an hour for people to come back to work, on the margin, that's not enough of an incentive for some people to come back."

It's the same story at Gerrards Market in Redlands, where the owner says they could currently hire eight or nine people, but people aren't applying.

"And you can't blame them. They can make more money staying at home than what they can working," owner Tom Reingrover said.

Reingrover said he expects more applicants, but not for a few months.

"If this federal money ends in September like it's supposed to, my guess is you're going to see people lined up around the building trying to get a job," Reingrover said.

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