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Low unemployment rate leaves few job seekers for many staff shortages

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 12:04 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The year of the pandemic was a difficult year for businesses with many having to had lay off staff members when the lock downs began. It is now more than a year after reopening and some are still struggling to bring back employees.

Samantha Yu and her family owns the Hunan Chinese restaurants in the Tri-Cities. She told Local4 News that while business stayed steady during the pandemic, it’s been difficult to keep up with a staff less than half the size she would need.

“Normally on average, we need about 15 employees to operate comfortably. We have about seve,” Yu said. “It’s a struggle for sure. We’re very grateful we have a very tight family. I have siblings who work here and I have my father that works here.”

Family and friends were recruited to help at the restaurant as they work to keep the businesses running despite an high turnover rate.

“It’s like a never-ending cycle,” Yu said. “We can’t really keep anybody because people are just kind of hopping around to the next opportunity. Corporate places are offering higher wages that mom and pop places can’t afford to pay.”

The Yu family is not alone. Nebraska has 47,388 job openings statewide and currently is reporting the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. This has left many businesses unable to fill the positions.

“It is primarily because there is a huge demand,” President of Essential Personnel Staffing Agency Travis Powell said. “There’s a huge demand for people because there’s more construction going on. There’s more restaurants all the time. Because of all of those, it just depleted the number of people available to work.”

The NE Department of Labor shows 57,563 people are registered as job seekers, but said that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking for immediate employment.

“Some may be under employed, some may be seeking different career opportunities,” Greater NE One Stop Operator Josh Hanson said. “There may be those that are out of state and registered with our job searching network so that they can see different occupations and industry growth in Nebraska to make determinations in relocating to our state.”

The large number of opportunities leaves many hopeful that it does bring more people to Nebraska.

“We have an opportunity right now to recruit in more people and also create an opportunity to show people this is a place to stay and work as well,” Powell said.

The Department of Labor works with both employers hiring and people needing to be hired to find a match. Information on those programs can be found on the links below:

- dol.nebraska.gov

- NEworks.nebraska.gov

https://dol.nebraska.gov/ContactUs

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