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EDITORIAL: Where have all the workers gone?

It’s an interesting question with so many job vacancies

Everyone seems to be asking the same question. Where have all the workers gone?

There’s been an ongoing lack of available employees to fill an abundance of positions since things returned to “relative normal” following the lifting of many COVID restrictions.

The Canadian Press summarized what’s become an increasingly unusual situation in an article last week.

“Restaurants, airlines, schools and nursing homes are at the sharp end of a labour crunch that’s afflicted employers all year long,” the article pointed out. “In June, the unemployment rate fell to a record low of 4.9 per cent, tightening the screws on an economy with more positions than it could fill.

“Amid a prolonged pandemic, laid-off workers took stock and reassessed their priorities. Others, grappling with burnout in precarious or stressful work environments with long hours, simply walked away.”

The article mentioned that some of the hardest hit sectors are obviously now struggling to find and retain workers. “Wages have increased, but signs suggest some of that growth is slowing. Although retail employment is up from 2021, when public health restrictions kept many stores partially or fully closed, payroll employment dropped in both April and May, Statistics Canada data shows.”

The impacts are being felt here at home as much as anywhere else. It is especially difficult locally for restaurants to retain cooks and serving staff.

Owners simply do without full staffing in those areas until someone who might meet the requirements comes along. Some with the credentials simply decide to hold out for far more money than they would normally be paid.

Desperate times might call for desperate measures, but many small employers simply can’t afford to spend beyond their means on salaries because that’s what would-be employees are dictating with what’s essentially a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

Different types of industries and businesses are being affected. If many workers are leaving their jobs, the Canadian Press article posed the question, where are they going?

The results were quite surprising with such responses as back to school, back to yoga, toward public office, sales and writing, and even Uber driving.

— Black Press