Why do thousands of businesses still not have enough employees?
The government gave in, and the federal unemployment benefit was taken away. Without this incentive, did the employees return? Photo: Atstock Productions / Adobe Stock

It is no secret to anyone that the country is experiencing an alarming shortage of workers. Many industries have cut their operations in half or have even closed due to lack of personnel. Multiple strategies have been attempted in an effort to fill these vacancies, but the results have been less than encouraging. Why aren’t workers returning to companies?

Some sectors of the economy are more affected than others. The greatest shortage of employees can be found in industries such as manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and hospitality.

For example, the American Hotel & Lodging Association estimated that nearly 500,000 jobs in hotel operations will remain unfilled by the end of 2021.

A third of former hotel industry workers said they are no longer considering returning to this sector, according to a Joblist survey.

In search of culprits

Many people thought that the federal government was to blame for this trend because it offered additional compensation ($300) to supplement state unemployment insurance.

North Carolinians eligible for regular state unemployment insurance can receive benefits for up to 13 weeks, which is the shortest benefit period offered by any state. There is a maximum weekly benefit of $350, although the average claimant receives around $235.

Many have said that people earned more with the combination of state and federal unemployment insurance than from a job that pays minimum wage, which in North Carolina is an insulting $7.25 an hour.

Businesspeople and politicians lobbied the White House to eliminate federal unemployment insurance, thus “forcing” workers back into jobs. The government gave in, and at the beginning of September, this benefit was taken away. Without this incentive, did the employees return?

With this change, the reduction in North Carolina’s unemployment rate was minimal. This figure stood at 4.3% in August, and by the end of September, without federal unemployment insurance, it was 4.2%. “Help wanted” signs continue to hang from the windows of countless businesses in the Carolinas.

How can businesses retain workers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the economy’s trajectory and is causing a transformation in the labor market. Businesses that want to survive have no choice but to adapt to these changes.

Another factor to consider: the majority of sectors suffering from labor shortages are those that offer lower wages. So, what can be done? One option is to improve working conditions and salaries.

Many industries have sought creative ways to recruit workers, from offering bonuses, to higher wages, to more flexible hours. These are just some of the benefits implemented in a job market where demand exceeds supply.

Obviously, raising wages will generate an economic impact on companies. However, it costs them more if they have to stop production or they lose customers due to a lack of workers.

Contrary to what many believe, workers are not attached to government aid programs. They simply want a living wage and the opportunity to care for their family and be in an environment where they feel that their work is valued. Having good working conditions and wages is good business for everyone.

Find this article in Spanish here.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas? dbarahona@lanoticia.com

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