Businesses Struggle to Find Employees Amid Labor Shortage


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Nick Cosenza, Centurion Staff

Businesses across the country continue to struggle to find employees to fill the excess of positions available amid the recent labor shortage.
A labor shortage can be simply described as there being more jobs than there are people willing to fill them. With record job openings and extremely high unemployment, employers are having extreme difficulty recruiting workers across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the major cause of the shortage, but it is unclear which factor is playing the biggest role.
The CARES Act was signed into law in March of 2020. Many experts suggest the copious unemployment benefits given through the law were discouraging people from working during the pandemic.
The new law created the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC. People could receive up to an extra $600 per week under the FPUC, and many people believe these benefits are keeping people at home and not at work.
However, the pandemic unemployment benefits ended in September of 2021 and there was only a small decline in unemployment afterward. While being a factor, unemployment benefits are not the only reason there is a labor shortage.
Child care is another alleged factor in the labor shortage. As schools, daycare centers, and summer camps closed, it was up to the parents to take care of their children full-time. Parents were left with no choice but to leave their jobs and stay at home with their children.
This theory has its flaws too, though. As children began to go back to school or daycares, unemployment still did not decrease significantly like many expected. Mothers had returned to work at about the same rate as women without children, when businesses began to open fully.
The companies struggling the most with the labor shortage are businesses like retail stores and restaurants. Some experts attribute the shortage to a lack of interest in returning.
Some people are still having COVID-19 health concerns, holding out on higher wages, making different decisions about work, starting their own businesses, and others are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work.
It is not simply a shortage of people, though, the effects of the labor shortage trickle into every other part of many businesses. Hayley Weierstall is the general manager of Maggio’s Restaurant in Southampton, and is battling the labor shortage firsthand.
“It’s more than just trying to find servers or runners in the restaurant, farms and delivery companies can’t find workers either. It’s a problem with the whole supply chain,” says Weierstall.
“Most of our venders are having trouble finding people to process and deliver our supplies, too.” Weierstall continues, “We were forced to reduce our menu because we were struggling to keep food in stock, then as it got worse, we had to raise the prices of most menu items, as well.”
This is a common struggle among restaurants across the country. Criminal justice major Olivia Kaczmarek works at Giuseppe’s Pizza, a restaurant in Warminster, and is also experiencing the labor shortage.
“Customers are unhappy because they are dealing with higher prices and longer wait times. There just aren’t enough people to take care of them all,” says Kaczmarek, “It’s especially taxing on us employees who do show up.”
Restaurants and retail stores are not the only businesses battling the labor shortage right now. Lauren Cundari owns and operates Parlour Boutique Salon in Newtown, and has also experienced trouble with the shortage.
“We were lucky in having all of our staff return after the shutdown, but for a while, our supply orders were taking double, even triple, the time they would normally take.” Cundari said.
Cundari continues, “It has gotten better, but at the time, the suppliers said they couldn’t keep enough people in their warehouses to fulfill orders.”
Businesses are more desperate than ever to recruit employees. As a result, there are a surplus of benefits being offered to potential employees. Many businesses are offering extremely high wages and even sign-on bonuses for people who apply and accept the job.
Amazon, for example, is offering up to a $3,000 bonus to new employees, and an average wage of $18 per hour in an attempt to recruit employees. Target even created a new position where the employee works strictly when they need called “On Demand” team members to attract people to apply with a flexible schedule.
It is unclear when the labor shortage will calm down and things will go back to normal, or if they will at all. The question remains still: What will encourage people to go back to work?