Absolutely no one can argue that businesses have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Small businesses in particular have been hit the hardest.

And even though we've turned the corner on the pandemic, New Jersey continues to have some of the worst unemployment numbers in the nation. But why is that?

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One reason we hear often is that pay rates aren't high enough. But I see companies with starting rates that are much higher than they would've been before the pandemic and still nobody wants to work.

Even this past summer a popular boardwalk and beach owner couldn't find anyone to simply pick up trash for nearly $25 an hour. Think about it, that's pretty darn good for a part-time summer job where all you're doing is helping keep the boardwalk and beaches clean. Not to mention, you're working ON the beach and boardwalk.

Jacek Cieslak

So with that being the case, and many businesses still struggling to hire despite answering the plea for higher wages, one has to believe that something more is at play here. And in my opinion, that something is the additional unemployment benefits.

What else can it be? If it was about higher wages, then we wouldn't be in this labor shortage. And unfortunately, we're suffering here in New Jersey because of it.

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Restaurants seem to be taking the biggest hit in the Garden State. It almost feels like every week another long-time established eatery is shutting down due to a lack of employees.

And sadly, that lack of employees equates to the inability to keep up with demand, which results in less business and ultimately closing for good.

Susan Vineyard

Now I'm not saying that's the only reason some may not be going back to work, as working conditions have also been brought up as a reason some won't go back.

In my opinion, those of you who have held out already got the upper hand. You successfully managed to get higher rates and hopefully, that also means better work conditions since many employers are desperate for help.

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But I also believe some of you are simply not going back because you have all those extra unemployment benefits. And although it's been nice to have all that extra money, it's going to catch up to you.

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Those extra benefits have recently expired, so it's only a matter of time before those of you refusing to work will have no choice but to go back. Your bank account will eventually deplete, and you'll have to face the fact that the party's over.

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And as for the employers? Don't be surprised if they don't offer you those high rates for sitting around all summer long. They heard your demand for better wages, but you didn't take it.

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Oh, and one last thing. Don't be surprised if you get replaced by a robot. If an employer can't get the staff, then they might as well invest in technology to help keep their business afloat.

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Again, I know not everybody is in this boat, and some New Jersyans do have legitimate reasons for not returning to the workforce. It still hurts though to see so many small businesses suffering, not because of lack of business, but because of not enough employees willing to apply.

And yes, it's pretty obvious what some of you are doing. You accept the interview and don't show up. Why? To show that you are going on interviews. It's clear as day you're milking the system.

So if you're in New Jersey and fall into that category, I have one message for you – the party is over, let's get back to work.

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