Restaurant chain announces mass reductions of hours for Pa. employees

The Tampa, Florida-based owner of restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill, announced it will be “vastly reducing hours” for nearly 3,000 of its employees in Pennsylvania.

Bloomin’ Brands Inc., the owner of Outback, Carabba’s, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s restaurants, wrote in a notice to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry that it will be reducing the hours of 2,952 employees at 46 locations in 17 counties throughout the state.

The company said that it has not yet announced furloughs or layoffs for any of the employees, but reported the reduction in working hours to the department in case a sudden reduction of hours constitutes a layoff under Pennsylvania’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

Counties effected by the reductions include Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton and York.

Bloomin’ Brands wrote in the notice that it plans for the change to be temporary and plans to bring the employees back to pre-pandemic hours after its stores fully reopen.

“The company is optimistic that operations will resume as normal when the current COVID-19 pandemic has been contained,” the company wrote. “In the meantime, we have provided four weeks of relief pay to employees with vastly reduced hours.”

PA unemployment rate hits 4.3%, highest this year

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was the highest it has been all year in November after hitting a record low in April.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reported this week that the state had an unemployment rate of 4.3% after hiring 18,000 Pennsylvanians last month.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate, which was down by one-tenth of a percentage to 3.5% last month.

November’s unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was one-tenth of a percentage higher than October’s 4.2%. The rate is the highest the state has seen this year after having a string of months with the lowest rate in years.

The state’s unemployment rate began at 4.1% in January but dropped to 3.9% in March, marking the first time that the state hit such a low since 1976. From April to June, the rate stayed at 3.8% before growing back over the 4% threshold in September.

Over the year, employers in the state hired an additional 48,400 people compared to the same time last year. Pennsylvania currently has a record high 6 million people in the workforce.