Orange County business owners “desperate” to fill open jobs, Mayor Demings says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Small businesses shut down during the pandemic are now at risk of closing because jobs aren’t being filled.

It’s been argued the lack of job seekers could be an unintended consequence of the financial support going to those laid off during the pandemic.

READ: Central Florida employment improves as state unemployment holds steady

However, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says the problem is awareness. He just doesn’t think enough people know about the jobs that are available.

Miguel Palacio is the owner of Burrito Tropical in Orlando. He says he’s ready to fully open for business, but the inability to fill his staff is holding him back.

“I put it in social media. I put it on the internet with friends, but nobody wants to work. I don’t know why,” Palacio says.

In the past, Burrito Tropical opened at noon and closed at 9 p.m., but now, the restaurant only opens for dinner.

READ: Businesses scramble for help as job openings go unfilled

To change that, Palacio says he still needs to hire a server, a cook, and help in the kitchen.

Mayor Demings says he’s eager to get people back to work, so he reached out to Eyewitness News directly to spread the word that many local businesses are trying desperately to hire people.

“Perhaps it’s unknown to some people that there are jobs available and people willing to hire them,” Demings says. “So we want to make sure we make that connectivity, so that people can get back to work.”

Palacio says he’s heard from too many people who admit they’d rather stay home and make the $600 per week they’d get on unemployment, and that working in jobs in restaurants is no longer worth it. Mayor Demings says he doesn’t think that’s the norm.

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“We are social creatures, and as human beings, we like to socialize,” Demings says. “Most of the people I know, they want to get out of their homes. They’re ready to get back to work.”

Some businesses have turned to more creative methods to get workers in the door, including offering incentives like higher wages and starting bonuses.