Businesses, customers grappling with ongoing labor shortage

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a contributing factor is many women have not returned to the workforce in the wake of the pandemic.
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 6:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - When business owner Sean Desporte is short on workers, he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, and for the last year, good help has been hard to find.

“We’ve had issues trying to get good employees,” Desporte said. “When the workers don’t show up, my manager in the back gets on the truck and goes and delivers. My manager inside gets on the truck and delivers. I get back there and help load trucks.”

It’s a problem businesses are battling across the country. They’re facing unprecedented challenges finding enough workers to fill open jobs. The latest data from the US Chamber of Commerce shows 11.3 million job openings, and six million unemployed workers.

“I think people were getting money and a lot of people didn’t want to work,” Desporte added.

“Some of the stimulus money probably gave people some money for a while and that’s great,” said Quave Brothers Po’Boys & Meat Market Owner Bronson Quave. “I got stimulus money as well. In hindsight, did they give too much so that people can stay home?”

Experts said the pandemic also contributed to the labor shortage, with some people choosing to not return to the workforce.

“Soon after everything opened up after the pandemic, we couldn’t even get people to apply,” said Quave. “We were trying any kind of way to get people in here.”

As an incentive to keep employees, Quave increased pay at his restaurant. He said wages, year over year, are up 25%, but that’s caused a slight increase in prices for customers.

“So wages went up,” he recalled. “With that, unfortunately, you have some price increase. It’s a fine line. I can probably go up right now to be honest but people have enough. It’s hard enough to get gas and everything else.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one contributing factor to the worker shortage is that many women have not returned to the workforce in the wake of the pandemic. There are an estimated one million women missing from the labor force today compared to February 2020.

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