CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Starting Saturday, more than 100,000 North Carolinians will lose pandemic federal unemployment benefits.

Business owners across the state are hoping this will end the labor shortage, but aren’t holding their breath. Meanwhile, a group who usually has a hard time finding a job, has capitalized on the surge of openings. 

“Companies are still running, and they need employees. So I think they are really giving those who were incarcerated a chance. Work has to go on,” Yard Manager Antonio Sullivan said with Queen City Metal, Recycling, and Savage.

Sullivan has been out of prison since 2014, and luckily got back into the workforce a few days later, but it doesn’t always happen like that. Studies show the unemployment rate for previously incarcerated individuals is five times higher than the rate for the general population. But with the labor shortage bringing 9.8 million job openings nationwide, the skies are clearing for those seeking a second chance. 

“People are hiring out there in the Charlotte metro area, in greater metro Carolinas, we’re seeing that inmates who get out can easily get a job, therefore they don’t call us as much because they really only call us when they have the needs,” said Jeff Cloud, Founder of Crossroads Re-entry

Cloud is the founder of Cross Roads Re-Entry, a non profit that works with people who have been released from jail or prison. Cloud was incarcerated himself, and now teaches others how to stay on the right path. 

“I tell people, when I teach classes, and it’s on our curricula, you want to get hooked up with people who give second chances, none of us would want to work for anybody who didn’t give a second chance,” Cloud explained. 

As it turns out, there are many openings at businesses willing to offer those with a record a second chance. 

“I understand people can change. So yeah, that has never really affected my opinion on hiring someone because of their past experience,” said Mackenzie Hornbeck, Manager at Vana Charlotte.

Hornbeck is the bar manager at Vana Charlotte. Like most businesses in the country, they’re hiring. 

“It’s impossible to find people,” Hornbeck said.

But for anyone looking for work, regardless of your arrest record, Sullivan says start applying. 

“I would say do not give up. Do not give up.”