By CBSLA Staff

TUSTIN (CBSLA) – Some Orange County small businesses are hopeful the end of federal pandemic unemployment benefits that many people have been receiving could mean more potential employees to hire.

On Monday, nearly nine million people in the United States lost all unemployment benefits provided by the federal government’s COVID protection package.

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Renz Bar in Tustin is down to one cook when there used to be four. A bartender there must spend half her time in the kitchen, making sure the bar stays in business.

Like many small businesses, the bar has had to cut hours because not enough people are applying to posted jobs.

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“We went from always having food, people moving and shaking, to now just praying and hoping we have a cook,” said Bartender Bridget Thornton.

Even as employees are coming back to work, some small business owners fear they can’t compete with larger companies offering signing bonuses and higher pay.

“It’s getting to a point where we really need something to happen,” added Thornton.

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President Joe Biden’s administration believes the U.S. economy is strong enough not to be rattled by evictions or the drop in unemployment benefits. Officials maintain that other elements of the safety net, like the Child Tax Credit and the SNAP program (which Biden permanently boosted earlier this summer), are enough to smooth things over.