ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – ‘Hiring Now’ signs may be scattered all across the country, but not every American is racing to fill out an application. Even as COVID-19 cases decline, the number of people heading back to work is only slowly increasing — local economists say there are four main reasons for the staffing shortages.
Low wages, lack of childcare, COVID-19 concerns and culture are all contributing factors, according to workers and experts in New York and nationwide.
“I think COVID concerns at number one,” Economist Martin Cantor said. “And it could very well be part of the wages that that employers are offering.”
A recent survey conducted by the Conference Board found over 40-percent of employees are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at their place of work.
Aside from Coronavirus concerns, experts indicate poor pay is another reason for the workforce shortage. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a “wage calculator,” which shows the income families and individuals working low-wage jobs make is insufficient and does not meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. New York State’s minimum wage is considerably below what is considered a sufficient wage.
Another issue forcing Americans to stay home is the expense of childcare, as well as the lack of it. Over 700,000 parents were forced to leave the workforce when COVID-19 hit, according to the Center for American Progress.
“Childcare is a big issue,” Cantor said. “It mostly impacts women, and those are the folks not coming back to the workforce.”
For Elmira College Professor Matthew Burr, workforce culture is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the labor shortage.
“It’s about company organizational culture, it’s about how you treat your employees,” Burr said. “And if you’ve got a high turnover, if you’ve got bad culture [and] bad attitudes at the top, you’re not going to keep people.”
Economists predict that the labor shortage could have long-lasting impacts, especially come the holiday season. Consumers should expect shipping delays and shortages.