Local deli cuts hours in half after being unable to hire enough staff

Many businesses in Minnesota have been struggling to fill positions over the past year, with several attributing the problem to increased unemployment benefits.


A local Minnesota business is cutting its hours in half because it can’t hire enough employees to keep the store running.

Lake Country Meats, a butcher and deli shop in Alexandria, announced on Facebook Monday that its sandwich shop will be closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for the time being.

“We are unable to secure enough employees at this time to keep [the store] running at a standard we need, and you expect,” the post says.

The butcher’s announcement insinuates that unemployment benefits are part of the hiring problem, saying, “Maybe the higher-ups will help us out soon and return our workforce.”

The Meat Street Sandwich Company, which appears to have recently opened as a subdivision of Lake Country Meats, said it is working on alternative ways to stay open, possibly by serving only cold sandwiches for part of the week.

Many businesses in Minnesota have been struggling to fill positions over the past year, with several attributing the problem to increased unemployment benefits, The Center Square reported.

The National Federation of Small Businesses reported in April that 42% of small business owners couldn’t fill open positions. In Minnesota, from the middle of March 2020 to May 6 of this year, about 1.3 million people filed for unemployment. That’s out of the 5.64 million living in Minnesota.

A spokesperson for Atlas Staffing Inc., a staffing services company in Minneapolis, said the company is only able to hire for three or four positions per day out of 10 available. Even with incentives like higher hourly pay and flexible hours, employers can’t seem to find people willing to work.

“They’re making more money staying at home on unemployment than they would be making at these $13.25 jobs,” Alison Barge, the company’s Minneapolis office manager, told The Center Square.

Nationally, unemployment rose to 6.1% in April, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last April, unemployment hit its highest point since 1948, jumping to 14.7%.

Economists foresaw adding one million jobs to the market as vaccinations became available, but only about a quarter of that has been the reality, The Center Square said.

Iowa announced this week that it will end its participation in several federal unemployment programs, since the additional benefits have caused a labor shortage. The federal benefits will end on June 12, including the $300 weekly payments received by those filing for unemployment.

“Now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “We have more jobs available than unemployed people.”

Others states such as Arkansas, Montana, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama have made similar announcements.