RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The U.S. unemployment rate has hit 14.7 percent, the highest rate since the Great Depression. The Labor Department said Friday that 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April.
Employees of Joe’s Inn at Bon Air are some of the millions unemployed. President Joe Driebe furloughed all 82 employees in March when the restaurant closed its doors.
“I didn’t feel like I could make even enough money doing carry-out to cover the expenses,” Driebe told 8News. “We’re a big place. It takes a lot of people to run it and the utilities are extremely high.”
He urged his furloughed workers to apply for unemployment. “Most of them did, but I had other people who work other jobs and they didn’t qualify for unemployment,” Driebe added.
Nearly a month later, Joe’s Inn at Bon Air received money from the Paycheck Protection Program. That PPP loan is now allowing Driebe to pay his furloughed employees and re-open the restaurant to carry-out orders.
“We’ve been totally shut down,” he said. “It’s like opening a new restaurant.”
However, that PPP loan only lasts for eight weeks, expiring for Driebe on June 5.
“If it looks like we can at least break even, then my plan is to keep going,” he said. “If it looks like we can’t break even, then I’m probably better off just shutting the doors again. If the restaurant does close down again, those furloughed employees will have to go back on unemployment benefits.”
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