SUAMICO, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Though the state's latest data shows falling jobless claims in Wisconsin, some local businesses are still seeing the impact of a global pandemic.
"I put a post out for a chef two or three weeks ago now... haven't gotten a single application," Chives Restaurant owner Logan Higgins said.
First-time weekly unemployment claims across the nation fell below 500,000 applications for the first time in over a year. In the State of Wisconsin, regular initial claims dropped to its lowest point since mid-March of 2020. Local restaurant owners like Higgins say they're still struggling to find workers.
"I just worry about the employees that we do have trying to keep them happy," Higgins said. "They're burning out."
As the owner of Chives in Suamico, Higgins says he's turned down private events due to staffing numbers.
"I feel like it's crazy for, and a lot of business owners will probably say the same thing, that I'm turning away a bunch of money just to make the staff happy which is important right now though," he said.
Throughout the United States, the week ending May 1 produced 498,000 new unemployment applications, which fell from nearly 590,000 registered in the week prior. In the Badger State fresh weekly claims hit 10,318. The week ending March 28, 2020, notched 110,000 first-time jobless reports.
Local experts say the improved unemployment numbers don't seem right.
"The [unemployment insurance] number is based on people who are looking for work and are unemployed," Fox Valley Workforce Development CEO Anthony Snyder said. "If you stop looking for work, you're not counted as part of that number."
And with $300 bonus unemployment checks from the federal government, workforce development leaders many other industries have staffing issues.
"As long as the state and the feds continue to offer unemployed people lots of cash, this extra pandemic unemployment money, why would they go back to work?" Snyder asked.
While these numbers continue to better, they are still doubling what the state saw before the pandemic. Per the U.S. Department of Labor, it's the 59th straight week of historically high unemployment claims.
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Higgins says he wishes his restaurant could contribute to lower jobless claims.
"A lot of the times now, we're stretching them [employees] to five days even though they don't want to," Higgins said. "But they're doing that to be nice, to help us out, which is great. But how long can that last?"
This past week, economists projected 538,000 new unemployment claims. This is usually seen as a metric to judge the quantity of layoffs.
Statistics from the Bureau of Labor show nearly half of workers at restaurants and bars lost or left between February and April last year. In March, the industry was still down roughly two million jobs.
To find more job opportunities near Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley Workforce Development board recommends heading to the state's job center website.