Help Wanted: Congressman discusses unemployment in the Cape Fear


NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Help wanted signs have multiplied across the Cape Fear, affecting everyone from restaurants to flower sellers like Castle Hayne Farms.

Mother’s Day is on the way, and Castle Hayne Farm’s owner, Mark Hommes says it’s one of the busiest times of the year. Harvesters are working non-stop to send out more than 15,000 bouquets in just two weeks.

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“Demand is huge now,” said Hommes. “We’re trying to get it all done, but unfortunately we can’t find enough help.”

Usually the farm hires extra help for the Valentines and Mother’s Day flower rush, but this year, not many rose to the occasion.

“Nobody applies,” Hommes explained. “I think COVID is the reason of this, or maybe the stimulus, I don’t know. But we can’t find enough people.”

Castle Hayne Farms isn’t alone. According to the National Federation of Independent businesses, 42 percent of small business owners surveyed said they could not fill open positions.

“It is the number one issue in the seventh congressional district,” said Republican, Congressman David Rouzer. “And I would argue statewide and nationwide, too.”

Congressman Rouzer said he gets calls from voters everyday who have had to limit hours or shut down their businesses.

Though it’s a widespread issue, many disagree on the solution. Some say it indicates a larger issue within North Carolinian minimum wage.

Rouzer countered. In his opinion, most minimum wage jobs are meant to be stepping stones, not permanent.

“It helps to develop, you know, skills that you need in the workforce,” said Rouzer. “Those jobs were never intended to be a career.”

Others, like Rouzer, believe because of added unemployment funds, small business have been put in competition with the government for a workforce.

“You get what you incentivize. When you put in place unemployment benefits that are exceptionally generous, add a stimulus payment to it as well, you’re not going to have workers.”

Rouzer said he thinks the solution is to cut down unemployment benefits, but continued it would be impossible to do until it expires in September due to lack of votes.