Local Businesses Continue to Struggle With Staff Shortages

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — As COVID cases go down and vaccination rates go up and the state continues to reopen, more and more businesses are hoping to open up or expand their hours, the issue is finding people willing to work.

“That could be for a variety of reasons,” Kari Puleo, Executive Director of the Utica Chamber of Commerce explained. “Of course, there’s the unemployment insurance, there are people who are afraid to return to work they still have fears of the COVID-19 virus, they may not be vaccinated yet they may work in a population where they work around a lot of people so they may be more hesitant to come back.”

Staff shortages have forced businesses to alter their schedules. Carmella’s Cafe in New Hartford has had to close its doors on Mondays because of a lack of people willing to work. The cafe is so desperate for employees they have weekly job fairs hoping to find new hires.  Holland Farms, a bakery, and deli in Yorkville have had to put up a sign apologizing to customers for the inconvenience that comes from their staff shortages, and hiring signs can be found all over their store with available positions.

Driving around you may have noticed a sign or two of places hiring and many of them are offering well above minimum wage but in today’s job market employers have to offer more than just competitive wages to entice people to come work for them.

“The key is we have to get people to come back to work and fill these jobs,” John Calabrese Owner/ President of Express Employment Professionals explained. “So what we’ve been doing here is investing a lot more into recruitment we are being more creative with our ads making sure our postings are eye-catching, that they are including any flexibility the pay rates within the jobs any incentives to bring people back to work.”

With the job market as competitive as it is right now, and unemployment benefits ending in September, Both Puleo and Calabrese tell me that now is the best time to look for a job.

“Now is the time to be looking for employers that have retirement benefits, they might offer great health insurance and all of these other things,” Puleo said. “So you want to be looking for a job now while the market is competitive rather than when the unemployment insurance ends and it’s going to be tougher to find a job.”

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