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Rochester businesses speak about employment rollercoaster through the pandemic

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Almost 969,000 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic shutdown was announced on March 16.

All businesses were affected by the pandemic with

While businesses deemed non-essential needed to close and furlough employees, essential businesses were forced to have employees work from home or find safer ways to have them at the workplace.

Visiting Angels, an in-home care service for seniors, was deemed essential. However, director Joe Sedelmeyer said 15 of its caregivers opted to stay home due to personal or family health reasons, leaving the company short-handed.

When the pandemic began, the company started paying all employees an extra $2 per hour as a bonus. But keeping a full staff became more difficult with unemployment benefits giving people an extra $600 per week.

“It was like you were working against that incentive,” Sedelmeyer said.

He said it even came up in conversations with some applicants who ended up denying job offers.

The restaurant industry is also no stranger to plenty of employee turnover. And the pandemic certainly didn’t help.

“It definitely made it difficult to have proper staffing,” said Brothers Bar & Grill owner Kevin Smoot.

The biggest challenge Smoot said his business faced was trying to help all of his employees retain hours so they could keep making money to make their own ends meet.

“It has just been a real balancing act to make it all work and make sure everyone gets taken care of,” Smoot said.

The workers have since returned. Applications are back up and the workers are ready to work again.

“We’re getting about four applicants per week so that has come back quite a bit,” Sedelmeyer said.

Sara Schneckloth, a server who works three jobs, said most of her earnings come from serving and that sitting at home got old.

“I was way ready to get back to work and ready to jump back into it,” Schneckloth said.

Zach Fuller

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