PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The coronavirus pandemic caused a massive wave of unemployment in the Pittsburgh region.
Now that the economy is coming back, employers face a new problem — not enough workers. KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan looks into why employers now can’t fill positions.
After a year of shutdowns and indoor dining restrictions, the lunchtime crowd at the Juniper Grill in Cranberry is picking up. The problem now is a shortage of cooks, bartenders and waitstaff to serve them.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Pat McDonnell with Atria’s Restaurants. “We have eight restaurants and we need employees at all eight restaurants.”
Employers throughout the region have the same lament. Now that the economy is springing back, they can’t find the workers to fill the positions.
“People call for interviews and they don’t show up for interviews,” said McDonnell. “We’ve gone every place we could go to advertise, to get the word out we are hiring. It’s just been very, very difficult.”
“The labor force is down. The people looking for work is down. I think a lot of folks have moved on,” said University of Pittsburgh researcher Chris Briem.
At the onset of the pandemic, the region lost 200,000 jobs but got all but 78,000 back over the last year. Now that many of those jobs are returning, about 50,000 people have left the workforce and, according to Briem, are no longer available.
“I think some of our workers have retired early,” said Briem. “I think a lot of our younger workers include students. I think there are tremendous issues with folks taking care of children or other folks at home not being able to jump back into the labor force.”
“It’s a challenge to get them back because of the increased money they get,” said Chief Operating Officer of St. Moritz Security Services Chris Hansen.