by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Aside from not being able to find someone to take over the business, Gary and Judi can’t even find people willing to work, period. Two years ago, they put a sign out in front of their business, which sits along a busy state road, advertising “Now Hiring. We Will Train” for three and a half months.
“Two guys stopped in to get applications. Neither one of them brought them back,” Gary said. “We’re willing to train you into a skill, I mean, into a trade here … And my wonder was, how many guys in their 20s went by delivering pizzas that summer, saw that banner, and never even came in?”
“People don’t want the responsibility,” Judi added. “They don’t want the headaches. Basically, most people don’t want to work today.”
The Eubankses have witnessed this problem for years, but now it’s far worse, with the coronavirus and subsequent government response exacerbating the worker shortage. Not only has the PPP come back to bite business owners like Gary and Judi, but increased unemployment handouts, taxpayer-funded stimulus checks, and the boom of remote jobs have wildly disincentivized would-be workers. And thanks to an ever-rising minimum wage, these trade businesses are now competing for workers with low-skill, low-responsibility jobs as well.
“I’m in restaurants working all the time,” said Gary, who often services commercial refrigerators. “I’ll be talking with young guys that are in there, chopping up onions in the kitchen, whatever. And I’ll ask them, ‘Have you thought about something else different? Trades?’ ‘Oh, no, I like my schedule here. I get to work kind of when I want to.’ And they’re not interested in a full-time job.”
“And now what the situation we’re finding is that people don’t want to start at the low end of the totem pole when they can go to Dairy Queen and make $19 an hour,” Judi chimed in.