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Low unemployment is good news, but tricky for some small businesses

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — With the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Minnesota at 3.2% job seekers can get their pick of the opportunities out there.

However, that also means a challenging time especially for small business employers to find the best or sometimes any employees.

“Expansion is great, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense,” Joseph Phillips owner of Jersey Jo’s said.

Phillips opened his first location on 2nd Street five years ago, and noticed how busy the restaurant became. So his family decided to open up a second location in northwest Rochester a little over a year ago.

Towards the end of the summer things took a turn for the worse, “We ran into problems again with labor, employment and that was enough to make us say hey it’s time to close this location,” Phillips said.

Since then the store bears a sign that reads, ‘short staffed, so we will be closed until further notice.’ As of late last week he decided to permanently close that location.

Jersey Jo’s isn’t the only restaurant, Papa Murphy’s on 41st street also has a sign on the door noting new store hours because of limited help.

Director of Business and Workforce Expansion at RCTC Jennifer Wilson said nearly employers are affected to some degree because of the extremely low unemployment rate.

“Small businesses are directly being affected by that because many of them can’t pay the wage that some of the larger businesses are being able to pay,” Wilson said. “They are not finding the employees and many times the employees leave and go across the street for 10 cents more and so their actually chasing the dime or dollar.”

With small businesses in a tough time, where can they turn to? Wilson said the SE Minnesota Small Business Development Center works quite a bit with small businesses.

“We can develop those skills and upscale individuals so that they are prepared and can walk through those doors and find a livable career,” Wilson said.

Tonic Juice Bar Manager Tim Wiste says he’s enlisted in the help of the SE Minnesota Small Business Development Center. “Recently, I’ve met with the small business to see what I can do for this restaurant as well and they were wonderful for me.”

As for Phillips, he said his experience has been a learning opportunity. “I didn’t die, I didn’t get told I can’t do this again, I learned a lot.”

Ubah Ali

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