Help wanted – everywhere

You can’t miss the signs anymore.

There are “help wanted” signs in almost any store or restaurant you enter.

In March 2021, Texas’ unemployment rate was 6.9%. Hays County’s rate is sitting at 5.3%, a very slight decrease from the 5.7% in February.

So, with all of these people out of work, why can businesses not even get applicants in their door?

One week last month, a local personnel placement service had 99 jobs available. It received three applications. A local winery manager said he cannot open his tasting room; he simply cannot find workers. Period.

Everyone says they want stores, restaurants, wineries and more to open up to the public. With the Great Freeze of February 2021, there are many jobs open for construction, plumbing and services personnel and assistants. Business owners are crying out for workers.

Put simply – there are jobs that need filling.

But without residents willing to go back to work, nothing’s going to be opening up anytime soon. And unless businesses can start filling positions, there are implications for the 2021 economy that could take years to recover.

There are a number of factors playing against businesses – some people do not feel comfortable going back into the work place. Others have decided that they now only want to work remotely, even if everyone in an office have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Still others remain out of the workforce because their children cannot yet go back to school. Or because they are taking care of someone who got sick during the pandemic.

This pandemic has shaken the labor force; it has shaken the confidence of workers.

There is talk among business owners that the extra stimulus package that extends to September 2021 could be a driving force in people not wanting to go back to work. In Texas, with the extra stimulus boost, workers could get 24 weeks (maximum) of funding at $384 per week, plus the extra stimulus boost of $300 per week for a total of $684/week.

If you were to get that for an entire year, that’s in the range of $35,500 annually. It’s a lot of money, but in this economy, is it enough for people not to apply for good-paying jobs? Studies going on throughout the U.S. – from the University of Minnesota to the University of Chicago to the University of Pennsylvania – say the weekly stimulus boost on unemployment benefits is not the problem.

The main reason people aren’t going back to work is fear of getting sick and not having dependable childcare as those sometimes close due to children showing up with COVID. There are those who cannot re-enter the workforce because they need to care for sick older relatives or others in the family who might have been compromised by COVID.

So it boils down to this – the faster people get vaccinated – and that mean’s those who claim there are ‘problems’ with the vaccinations – the faster we can get this economy going.

It’s not fair to force everyone else to wait, and wait, and wait for the marketplace to open up.

Get vaccinated. Or face the consequences of a slow economy and a very, very slow recovery.

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