Why can’t small businesses find workers?

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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Help wanted signs are a common sight on doors and windows of local businesses. Fast food restaurants, grocery stores, hospital, nursing homes — all need help.
Businesses are already swamped with increased demand which they are finding difficult, if not impossible, to meet. The result is these businesses are cutting back on their operations, which will eventually cause a ripple effect on the market since reduced operations mean fewer employees will be needed, thereby putting more people out of work.
A recent AP article noted that “employers are posting job openings faster than applicants can fill them.”
Most of the job gains have been in the hospitality and leisure industry, which includes restaurants. The largest job gains have been in those industries. You also see employers saying, I’ve had to raise my wages in order to get workers. That’s how the market works.
That said, there are also frictions in the market that will take time to resolve. It doesn’t have much to do with willingness of workers to work. There are still large amounts of workers out of the labor force — most of these are women — (because) many have opted to homeschool. So, a lot of this has to do with having to take care of someone at home. If it’s not a child, they may also have to take care of an elder relative. There are still some of those frictions in the market that are causing some of these workers to remain on the sidelines. There are also risks to workers here. Some of these jobs don’t offer paid sick leave. Some workers haven’t been vaxxed yet and are still afraid of some risk. It’s a complicated question.
As is typical of elected officials who are always looking to satisfy voters so as to assure a successful re-election campaign, money is always the first solution. And in the case of the lost jobs resulting from government mandated business closures, Congress has pumped money into the unemployment programs to support the millions of laid-off workers.
Some say that in order to draw workers back to jobs, the government should cut the extra unemployment benefits, and a few states, Tennessee, being one, have done that.
However, the hypergrowth in the hiring rate means that workers have the bargaining power to hold out for better wages before returning to work, or to leave their current jobs for higher-paying opportunities. That’s especially tough for small businesses, who likely don’t have the same resources as their bigger competitors.
And, this word to patrons. As things slowly return to normal and we try to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, stores, restaurants and other businesses in our community and beyond will benefit greatly from your patronage.
We think you should support local businesses with your pocketbook.
Buying goods and services locally will speed up the pace of recovery, is good for the local economy overall and consequentially good for the community.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, they are planning a record-breaking hiring binge.
“We have never seen this kind of intensity around job creation in the 44-year history of the NFIB Jobs Report,” said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the foundation. “This is a powerful signal that small business is roaring back to life and ready to lead another period of economic expansion.”
Fifty-two percent of small business owners reported hiring or trying to hire in August, but 44 percent said they couldn’t find qualified workers, according to the report. Eighteen percent of small business owners said finding qualified workers was their second concern, behind taxes.
What this upcoming hiring binge means is there is lots of opportunity for anyone willing and able to work.
If the federal government will step out of the way and let the private market work as it is trying desperately to do, the country’s economy can grow at a sustainable level. But as long as the federal government keeps its proverbial finger on the job market scales, market disruptions will continue and eventually more, not fewer, will be forced back on the unemployment line.

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