No end in sight to the worker shortage

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:14 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - There’s a sign on the door at Hamilton’s Urban Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar informing customers the worker shortage is still affecting their business. The sign reads, “The world is understaffed. Please be patient and kind to our team.”

“It’s getting a little better, but it’s a slow progress,” Jason Arnold said. He’s the director of operations at the restaurant. He said the restaurant provides benefits and has been aggressive with compensation for employees, but still has a worker shortage.

“We have so much demand that we’re actually having to either shutdown reservations at times or turn people away at the door,” he said.

Three of the major contributors to the worker shortage are a spike in retirements, fewer mothers of school-aged children are working and there’s been a slowdown in immigration. Also, fewer people are taking jobs in the gig economy, working a side job on top of a full-time job.

Phyllis Ellison is associate vice-chancellor of the workforce solutions group at St. Louis Community College.

“I don’t think we’ve seen that shuffle, settle out yet,” she said.

Ellison said the service industry has been hit hardest, but also engineering and aerospace where the older workforces who are retiring haven’t been replaced by younger workers at the same rate. She said construction trades are also seeing a shortage but there’s been a big push to recruit and train new workers.

“If someone’s looking to enter the trades, you’ve got strong opportunities there, a pipeline of work ahead and strong wages to go with that,” said Ellison.

She said some of the more than three million who retired in the last couple of years have gone back to work. But she said no one knows how long it’ll take for the worker shortage to come to an end.