Help Wanted: Businesses struggle to hire employees, as trend shows not enough people are applying to work

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Whether it is on the drive to work or while picking something up to eat, many have begun to notice more and more “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring” signs just about everywhere.

Over the past year, the pandemic has been a major stressor for businesses everywhere, especially those that are smaller and locally-owned. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to really take effect on businesses last year, hiring was not the problem. Instead, the main concerns were keeping their doors open and as many on staff as possible.

General Manager at Green Chile Willie’s, Jim Robinson, shared, “March 1st, April, we shut down, but we honestly had all of our employees working again within about ten days.”

However, in 2021, a new problem has presented itself.

“Oh, yeah, it’s hard right now. No one is willing to work right now,” stated Robinson.

Director at Workforce Solutions Panhandle, Trent Morris, explained, “We’re seeing a complete turnaround from what we saw six, eight months, a year ago, where we see a tremendous need from employers for qualified job seekers to apply, and to be hired on the spot a lot of times.”

James Bernsen, Deputy Communications Director at the the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), shared that he attributes the rising number of unclaimed job opportunities to “Texas reopening 100% of the jobs that were lost in the pandemic.” Bernsen continued to explain, “Things like leisure and hospitality, which is restaurants, hotels, those were the hardest impacted and in the last month, that job sector gained 19,000 jobs.”

According to TWC, within the Top 25 Occupations by Help Wanted Postings Between January 2021 and March 2021 for the Panhandle WDA, “Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, including Fast Food” was ranked at #8, with 358 job postings.

Ranked at #1 is “Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer” with 1,331 job postings.

Bernsen stated, “We are seeing job growth, significant job growth. In the last month, we had almost 100,000 new jobs in Texas.”

With so many employment opportunities available, the primary question for these experts was, what factors could be playing a role in the hesitation to apply?

In response to this question, Morris stated, “Those that are looking for jobs, may be just a little bit selective right now. They may have some childcare or daycare issues with school. Maybe they’re doing virtual schooling, and sometimes these stimulus packages create a little bit of a disincentive for individuals to go to work because they have spending money right now.”

Bernsen later stated, “The hesitancy is there, and it’s understandable, but I think that when people look at the facts, I think there’s a lot of opportunity out there. And really, I think more and more Texans will start to go back to the workforce, as we see this in the next few months.”

On Monday, May 19, Governor Greg Abbott announced that federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits are ending in Texas. He said the U.S. Department of Labor has been informed that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the pandemic. That will be effective starting June 26th. This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Unemployment Compensation program.

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