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With Some Businesses Struggling To Find Workers, Northwestern University Economist Diane Schanzenbach Suggests 'Reemployment Bonus' Legislation

CHICAGO (CBS) -- "No one wants to work anymore." That's the candid notice sent by a suburban business owner asking customers to be patient as he struggles to find employees.

The snag? He blames generous unemployment benefits. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory discovered a possible solution.

Bobby Braun admitted he's desperate. If you walked into his Roselle warehouse and asked for a job, he would give you one without calling any references.

You see, the pandemic bore through his bookings, but gigs are finally starting to come in for his events company.

"We're doing tents, tables, chairs," said Braun, with that list going on and on.

Scraping together a staff is another story.

"In [20]19, for an example, we had 50 working during the summer," he said. "Right now, we have five."

He's posted Help Wanted ads on Facebook, Craigslist, Indeed, Barefoot Student, and more.

"No matter how many ads we run, signs we put up, people are just not applying," Braun said.

"Labor Issue" was the title of the email he sent past and current clients last week.

"Just to make people aware that, if I can't do your event, it's not because I don't want to and that, it's because we physically can't," he explained.

The note to customers said "no one wants to work anymore, they want to stay home and collect unemployment."

Some states like Montana recently stopped offering the federal option of an additional $300 a week for unemployment recipients.

"I would not recommend terminating the $300 a week benefit right now," said economist Diane Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

She argued that extra money shouldn't be cut cold turkey, because many deserving people rely on it, and other factors might prevent a return to work.

"COVID fears are still keeping a lot of people away," said Schanzenbach.

Understaffing seems to be hitting the trade, leisure, and hospitality industries harder than others. A simple Facebook search for "understaffing Illinois" pulled up several posts by restaurants asking for patience with delayed carry out orders, or warning about slow sit-down service because of staffing issues.

"Although leisure and hospitality has added 5.4 million jobs over the year, employment in the industry is down by 2.8 million, or 16.8 percent, since February 2020," read a report by the U.S. Department of Labor, released on Friday.

Compare that to overall unemployment, which sits at 6.1 percent.

"Some financial incentives could really help here," said Schanzenbach.

She suggested something called a "reemployment bonus."

Here's how that could work: the extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits for 17 weeks (which brings us to September 6th when the added benefit expires) would add up to $5,100. What if the government gave you 40 percent of that - or more than $2,000 - if you got a job now? You'd have employment to pay the bills, and a lump sum of cash in hand.

"You get one amount if you worked in July, another if you took a job in August, and it sort of phases out to zero," explained Schanzenbach, who said a reemployment bonus would not only need to pass Congress, but lawmakers would also need to design it so the example above is merely an example.

Braun doesn't care what gets the jobs filled. He's hoping to take "Help Wanted" down, not turn down more bookings.

Full-time positions at his company available include: Sales/Office Assistant and Delivery and Set Up Driver. Braun Events is also hiring part-time delivery and set up drivers, as well as set up and tear down crews.

To apply, email resume to, and note the position you are applying for in subject of email. Or call the Braun Events office at 847-304-4100.

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