Consultant says stimulus package not flattening unemployment curve as businesses not re-hiring staff

DRACUT, Mass. — As Massachusetts makes some strides to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, there’s another curve that the state is still waiting on to improve.

David Lewis of consulting firm Operations Inc. told Boston 25 News that, “so far we haven’t seen a flattening of the unemployment curve.”

The Federal CARES Act is the biggest push to flatten that curve, but Lewis said part of the problems is that two of the components of it are working against each other: the unemployment benefit and the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Because there are two factors here, number one, if they come back, they are making about the same amount of money, maybe even less by actually working,” Lewis said. “And, number two, they have a question of safety. Is the workplace a safe place to go?”

Another problem for businesses is that the money is hard to get. The first round ran out quickly and the second round may not end up in business owners’ accounts for weeks. Applications for the second round of federal loans will be accepted by the U.S. Small Business Administration starting Monday at 10:30 a.m.

“For some businesses that’s too long and now they don’t really have enough viable business to be able to bring those people back,” Lewis said.

Jennifer Gryckiewicz, the owner of Sugar-Coated Bakery in Dracut, applied for the PPP loan but did not get through.

“The store has been shut down for a month, now we are in the process of reopening for Mother’s Day,” she said.

However, Gryckiewicz will reopen alone.

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“It’s just not enough business for me to keep my staff employees currently,” she said.

Gryckiewicz is offering contactless drop-offs on cakes and orders and some new options like cookie-decorating kits.

“If I can get my staff back into the shop, that’s the ideal situation,” she said.

Gryckiewicz doesn’t think that staying home on unemployment will be the better option for her staff.

“It’s a bit of an equal wash as far as what they are getting and what they were before, so it’s not like it’s a huge bump for them,” she said. “So I really think the social matter of interacting with people is what’s going to draw everyone to want to get back to work, we are pretty much like family.”