Bri Hlava lost her bartending jobs when the Silver Dollar and the Pearl of Germantown in Louisville, Kentucky, shut down in the coronavirus pandemic. She had earned $600 a week.

Here’s the tricky calculus for Hlava, a 27-year-old in the decimated hospitality industry. Should she apply for one of the jobs the pandemic is creating, or should she wait it out?

“I’m not above getting a job at a grocery store or something like that,” she said, “but it’s a little scary.”

With millions of people being thrown out of work as much of the U.S. economy shuts down, the companies hiring are seeing a boost in interest. Some employers are speeding up interviews and paperwork to put people to work that same day.

But the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are opening up -- at grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouses as well as health care or technology -- aren’t necessarily conveniently located for the newly unemployed. Some require specialized skills. Most are temporary, for low wages and the kind of work that isn’t amenable to social distancing.

The open positions are “not going to be able to offset the vast majority of layoffs that we’re seeing at small businesses,” said Professor Paige Ouimet at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “A lot of workers are not going to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

For Matthew Celano the journey to being hired has been fraught. He was a server and prep-cook at a family-owned restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida, until recently when the city mandated all non-essential establishments closed after declaring a state of emergency.

Celano, 51, said he tried an Inc. warehouse 45 minutes away in Miami but was told by the time paperwork and processing was done, he wouldn’t be able to start for a month. He applied at a local Publix grocery store last week, for a job stocking shelves at night, and said he hasn’t heard back.

If he lands the Publix gig, it likely won’t pay what he had been pulling down -- $900 a week during the high winter season.

The average retail sales job in the U.S. pays $11.33 an hour. Even with the $2 boost some chains are offering for a short time, that’s only about $530 a week full-time. Many of the emergency postings are for part-time and only temporary employment.

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