Spring thaw boosting economy and jobs

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – There's no more blaming old man winter for being stuck at home. The snow is melting and sidewalks are cleared, paving the way for people to go out and spend money.

The spring thaw is prompting many of us to go out to eat and do some shopping. It's also encouraging businesses to hire.

According to the Labor Department, in March, hotels, bars and restaurants added 33,000 workers and retailers created 21,000 more jobs. Economists say it's a sign employers are optimistic that Americans will be spending more this year.

They think the melting snow has something to do with the boost.

At Mom’s Kitchen on N. Hastings Way in Eau Claire, the regulars are starting to trickle back in following a rough winter.

“It's really a delight just to see the snow finally melting and yes I’ll be able to get out much more now that the weather is getting better,” said Jeanette Castleberg who came out for lunch.

Castleberg said she didn't have to worry about snow covered sidewalks on Monday. The spring thaw made it easier for her to make it out for lunch at Mom's Kitchen with Ellen Sheffer.

“I'm very happy for the warmer temperature; I won’t have to hibernate like I did all winter,” said Sheffer.

Owner Alex Kalish said Mother Nature plays a role even for the restaurant business.

“There are good days and bad days depending on the snow and things like that especially being a smaller place with a lot of regular customers. When it's nice out we're really, really busy so I’m looking forward to spring coming finally,” said Kalish.

Kalish said when it’s cold, people don’t want to go out but now spring fever is kicking in.

“People started going out and spending money, going out to eat, go shopping, things like that so you see a lot more friendly faces, people willing to spend a little more money, so it’s nice to see people go out and enjoy the weather, get some good food,” said Kalish.

And as more people come out to eat, Kalish is looking for helping hands.

“Once spring kind of comes around we're busier, it's more all day which is nice so we need to extra staffing in the morning, evenings, everything like that,” he said.

Downtown at The Plus, owner Benny Haas said business is cooking. The weekend warm up brought the crowds out of their homes and into the city.

“Obviously, you got people moving out. This weekend was a prime example. Yesterday was crazy downtown,” said Haas. “People were walking around enjoying it, just to be able to take off their winter coats and start to explore.”

He's thinking ahead from spring to summer too, something many restaurants do around this time of year.

“They ramp up for the summer months. It changes just because the busy season around the holidays then it kind of subsides,” said Haas. “Summer especially for us now with our patio unveiling here coming in May, we're actually starting to ramp up in hiring more just to be able to cover all our space.”

In all, 192,000 new U.S. jobs were added in March and despite the terrible weather last month, economists say the number of Americans working in the private sector is back to what it was before the recession.

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