Employers are struggling to hire. What are the underlying reasons?

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This week we will explore the topic of hiring and retention in Randolph County and the wider region. Check back daily for updates and sign up for our email newsletter for daily local news.

In our first article this week on hiring and retention, we discussed what’s happening in Randolph County and what employers can do to attract and retain talent. In the second installment of this series, we plan to explore the reasons Why employers find it difficult to hire.

Read more: Employers across Randolph County are struggling to hire and retain employees. What is happening?

We spoke with local restaurateurs, manufacturers, economic development researchers as well as organizations like the Asheboro / Randolph Chamber of Commerce and the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation.

The most common reason employers gave was unemployment benefits linked to COVID, but there could also be larger forces at play, such as demographic shifts and an expanded labor market for workers.

Here are some of the possible reasons employers struggle to find the right people to fill positions, based on feedback from different experts and community members:

COVID-related unemployment benefits

the CARE The law signed by President Trump in March 2020 gave states the ability to extend unemployment benefits to people who would not normally be covered. In the state of North Carolina, the unemployed can receive up to $ 300 per week. While the House and Senate passed a bill to end EI, the governor vetoed it and benefits are expected to continue until September 6, 2021.

Asheboro restaurant veteran Billy Mitchell said, “With all the COVID relief, extended unemployment benefits, and stimulus payments, there are just a lot of people who don’t really want to work right now.”

Mitchell runs a local fast food restaurant chain and has increased wages from $ 11 to $ 12 an hour to $ 13 an hour with medical insurance and education assistance from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Even with the increase, his restaurant still has many unfilled vacancies.

Despite the $ 300 of unemployment insuranceUnemployment claims in North Carolina peaked in April 2020 at 172,000 weekly claims, but declined significantly to 4,520 claims in early July 2021. Unemployment levels are also at a low of 4.5% in May , compared to 13.8% at the same time last year. As hiring difficulties go hand in hand with low unemployment, what other factors come into play?

Workers reinvent themselves

Mitchell also noted that restaurant workers may rotate to different industries after being put on leave amid the pandemic. Additionally, as the job market heats up amid post-COVID economic recovery, opportunities are popping up everywhere.

“There are so many jobs out there, and if they have a tough shift or two, they just may not show up. And they are off to find the next job,” Mitchell says of catering employees.

According to a Charlotte-based economic development researcher Chuck McShane, “Catering workers ‘pivoted’ during the pandemic” and turned to jobs in building material and garden supply stores, which boomed amid the housing and gardening frenzy domestic over the past year.

Read more: Why are homes selling like hot cakes in Asheboro? Real estate agents provide the scoop

The average hourly rate for a job in the building materials and wholesale trade industry is $ 17.48, compared to the average $ 12.29 for the restaurant industry and $ 12.76 for the industry. hotel, according to payscale.com. The more stable working hours in these retail stores and the higher wages have led many people to flee jobs in the restaurant or hotel industry.

According to Linda Brown of the Asheboro / Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, many people have asked the chamber to start new businesses in recent months. As people have grown accustomed to setting their own hours during the pandemic, the attractiveness of working for themselves and owning their own business may have increased, says Brown.

Demographic changes in immigration and age distribution

Even before the pandemic, immigration declined dramatically and this trend was likely accelerated by travel restrictions, according to Chuck McShane. Immigrants represent 22% of hotel industry workforce and 20% of the restoration, but they only represent 6% of the population of Randolph County. The decline in immigration could have created a workforce unwilling to accept jobs in hospitality, manufacturing and services.

National immigration trends

Additionally, McShane points out that the US population is aging, with the under-25 population shrinking by 70% over the past ten years. In Randolph County, the median age is 41, and about 24% of the population is between 20 and 40 years old. Since young people often have jobs in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and could have used the time needed to invest in their education or professional skills, hiring managers may have difficulty getting them back to the restaurant or office. the hotel.

Ultimately, the reasons behind the hiring difficulties of various industries are a complex mix of different factors. Because unemployment levels are so low in Randolph County, COVID-related unemployment benefits alone cannot explain the hiring and retention problems, although they may be a contributing factor. Long-term trends like immigration and age that existed before the pandemic and the reinvention of work-life balance are likely to persist and affect the labor market for years to come.

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Michelle Shen is an economics and data reporter for The Courier Tribune. Feel free to reach out to her with story tips on Twitter (michelle_shen10), Instagram (pretty_photos_by_michelle OR michelle_shen10) or by email ([email protected]).


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