Work search requirement returns as businesses are desperate for workers

Posted at 10:41 PM, May 30, 2021

(WXYZ) — If you’re looking for a job in the restaurant industry, Curt Catallo says it’s easy to find one.

"In reality we’ll take everybody we can get,” said Catallo, who is the owner of Union Joints restaurant group. "Everybody is trying to do the same thing which is bring people on board, and it’s never been so difficult.”

Union Joints owns a number of metro Detroit restaurants like Union Woodshop in Clarkston and Vinsetta Garage in Berkley, and right now they have 300 job openings.

“If we need 300 people, I can’t imagine what the industry looks like right now,” Catallo said.

Last week they held a job fair which added a dozen workers, and starting Tuesday, they’re finally allowed to expand their hours. However, they still remain closed for lunch.

"Our business isn’t constrained by the hours that we’re able to operate from a licensing standpoint, it’s constrained by the hours we’re able to staff,” Catallo said.

Starting Monday, anyone receiving unemployment benefits in Michigan will have to prove they’re searching for work. It's a requirement that was suspended throughout the pandemic.

“With the new legislation, they’ve expanded what you need to do in terms of work search,” said Liza Estlund- Olson, Acting Director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency. "There’s a much broader array of things people can do.”

Instead of just applying for jobs, the unemployment insurance agency says you can do all kinds of things to qualify.

"You can take a resume writing class and improve your resume, you can take an interviewing class brushing up on your interviewing skills, you can look at a job fair,” Estlund- Olson explained.

As of April 2021, about 231,000 people were unemployed in Michigan, including 87,000 people in metro Detroit. Restaurant owners like Catallo hope some of them apply.

“Anything we can do to get people back into the hospitality and service industry is going to be good for all of us,” Catallo said. "It's our job as owner operators to make sure that we’re making this business attractive as it can be and reminding them it’s safe to come back into a restaurant.”

There will still be exceptions to the work search requirement for some people, including parents taking care of children doing virtual school.