Tight Labor Market Puts Squeeze On Businesses - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Tight Labor Market Puts Squeeze On Businesses

"I need a breakfast platter, scrambled, bacon, hash browns and biscuits," said George Moore as he rung up an order.

As owner of the Dairy Queen in Gulfport, Moore didn't expect to labor on Labor Day. But Hurricane Katrina forced him to take on the extra duties.

"I'm a little older, and a little fatter," George Moore said with a smile. "Yeah, I can manage. I've had to do a lot of things that I haven't had to do in awhile."

And a year after the storm, Moore's restaurant is still closed on Sundays so his employees can get a day off.

"We just lost most of our trained people," said Moore. "One thing is the employees moved away. Some of them did. Some of them were waiting out the unemployment insurance."

Moore still needs to hire six more workers.

"Right now, I'm paying overtime to people that I didn't do before the storm," said Moore. "Just this morning, I had a cook that didn't show up. When that happens, me, my wife or some management team would have to go fill that position. We've been able to keep it open, sometimes just by a piece of tape or something."

The worker shortage also had the owners of Island Strikz worried, but the new bowling business easily filled all 50 positions when it opened two weeks ago.

"As word got out, a new fun place, and the applications picked up every day," said Larry McGuire. "We ended up probably taking about 400 applications in about three weeks."

Co-owner Larry McGuire says timing had a lot to do with it.

"It was just at that point that some people had returned," McGuire said. "People were ready to go back to work, they had gotten their repairs done, so it worked out well for us."

The business owners believe the work-force will roll back to South Mississippi, if more houses and apartments come back too. The owner of the Dairy Queen says he expects the job market to get even tighter, as more casinos open up and try to entice workers with higher paying wages and better benefits.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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