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Sarah Stultz: Have patience with businesses in the community experiencing labor shortages

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I heard a rumor the other day about a restaurant in town that is going to be closing one or two days a week because it can’t find enough employees to keep the doors open. I’ve seen signs on other businesses that have had to close early. Others plan on closing a week or two this summer to give their employees a vacation.

We’ve seen it across the nation, but we’re seeing it more and more right here in our own community now. Many, if not all, businesses are struggling to find employees.

Here at the Tribune, we have struggled with finding a new reporter for the past several months. The applications have been dismal.

There are ads for everything from manufacturing to nursing positions and many in-between that are offering large sign-on bonuses and other benefits, along with much higher wages than those positions had even a year ago.

Many businesses want or have opportunities to grow, but those efforts are stifled because they don’t have enough workers to make it happen.

It is definitely a job-seeker’s market right now. All you have to do is jump in your car or walk down the street to see “now hiring” signs on storefronts.

Let’s be clear, the labor shortage existed a year ago, and we knew it was going to get worse as the population continues to age and people retire and leave the workforce.

According to the Center for Rural Policy and Development, job vacancy rates have climbed steadily since 2008. These high vacancy rates were the result of retirements, economic growth and an ongoing lack of available workers with applicable skills.

Add on top of it other concerns about a lack of transportation, housing or child care, and that makes matters worse. The state and the nation sure do have their work cut out for them.

Whatever the answers may be to this shortage, I think we all can agree we’re in an interesting predicament right now.

Some people are having to come in on their days off because they don’t have enough staff to cover their absences, and businesses are having to close early because they can’t find enough employees to keep the doors open.

As we all encounter these situations in the coming weeks and months, I hope everyone can practice patience and kindness .

The labor shortage is affecting the hospitality industry hard, but it is also affecting many other sectors.

You  never know what the workplace situation is like at area businesses, but many are strained.

It goes a long way to offer kindness.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.