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If unemployment rates are at a 50-year low, why is everyone short-staffed?

Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 21:35:34-05

WACO, Texas — Across the country, it seems more people are back at work with unemployment rates the lowest they've been in more than 50 years.

"Employers are trying to hold on to their workers and workers are trying to hang on to their jobs and those that are quitting are doing so they have better opportunities out there," Waco Economist Ray Perryman told 25 News.

With unemployment claims as low as they are, why are so many places still struggling to hire? Perryman said a lot of people just aren't comfortable going back to work yet still being in a pandemic.

"There's still a group of people who haven't come back into the workforce yet," Perryman said. "It's not huge in percentage terms, about one and a half percent or so. But when you translate that into a workforce of 150 million people, you're talking about well over 2 million people."

Sonita Perkins is a manager at The Children's Place and she said it's been really hard to bring people back since letting so many staff go last year.

"We have all worked a lot of hours, the ones who were here because we didn't have enough employees," Perkins said. "We're getting there slowly."

The company started to offer higher wages to help attract potential employees.

"We all got a nice little raise so it's not $7.25 anymore, it's a lot more," Perkins said. "That helps when people come in and they find out hey they're not paying $7.25 anymore, they're paying $10-something."

Perryman said if a company offers more money and a safe working environment during the pandemic, they are more likely to have people apply.