Metro Phoenix restaurant owner says employees choosing unemployment
PHOENIX — A metro Phoenix restaurant owner said some of her employees are choosing to continue receiving unemployment benefits rather than return to work.
“I thought that when we got the green light to open, everyone would come back. But that wasn’t the case,” Paullette Cano, the owner of Italian eatery Times Square, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.
Cano, who has two North Valley locations and one in the West Valley, said she was shocked when employees began telling her they would prefer to remain on unemployment after the restaurant reopened.
Dine-in at Arizona restaurants was allowed to begin at limited capacity on May 11 in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Cano said her restaurants have since added safety and sanitation measures in an effort to keep employees and customers healthy, but it hasn’t mattered.
“Some [employees] were college students who went home, but the hardest part has been when you’re almost at 20% unemployment and nobody’s coming through your door to apply,” Cano said. “I was just floored by that.”
Weekly unemployment benefits have soared since the coronavirus relief bill was passed in late March.
Last week, Arizona paid out more than $519 million in unemployment benefits spread across a total of nearly 415,000 claims.
About $355 million on those benefits were doled out as part of the first week of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Arizona House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said Monday a bill will be under consideration that would entice available workers away from bloated unemployment benefits and back into the workforce.