Leaders Search for Answers as Labor Shortage Continues

"These challenges are not easily solved and I'm afraid they're going to be with us for some time." Brian Calley President, CEO Small Business Association of Michigan

Leaders continue to search for answers as small businesses struggle with the current labor shortage.

Help Wanted 2Labor force participation rates are at an all-time low and with tourist season quickly approaching businesses are frantically searching for answers. Brian Calley, the President of the Small Business Association of Michigan, says the challenges won’t be solved easily and could be with us for some time.

“Many businesses are paying not just more, but a lot more than they’ve ever paid. Yet they are still struggling to get people into the workforce,” Calley says. “This is a challenge that I think is very complex in terms of what people want out of their lives. Obviously just wages is not inspiring enough people to get back into the workforce yet.”

Small businesses are struggling as of late as the issues seem to be stacking up. Calley says supply chain issues, rising prices and labor shortages are still with us today.

“[They’re] perhaps getting more pronounced than it was three months ago, or six months ago, or about a year ago when we first started hearing about these things,” Calley states.

According to Calley, labor force participation rates are at an all-time low, “in the last couple of generations.” The Director of Government Relations at Traverse Connect, Henry Wolf, believes the lack of housing in the area is the main reason for the labor shortage.

“The number one thing that we consistently heard from our small business owners is that they need talent, they need people. One of the continued issues is access to attainable housing,” Wolf says.

The Terrace Shopper Liquor Store say the shortages have made things tough, especially with tourist season right around the corner. A cashier for the store, Ethan Justice, says he loves the job, but the demand has made things challenging.

“When someone does call in sick or is sick, we’ve had many cases where there’s been no choice to shutdown the store for a day or for a couple days,” Justice claims.

Bills introduced by a coalition of business and community leaders from across the state, including TraverseHelp Wanted Connect, would create a friendlier environment for investing in workforce housing. The bill would also give employers financial incentives to invest in workforce housing. The bill passed the senate with bipartisan support. Now house committee members are debating the bills Tuesday in Lansing.

“[We] need people that actually want to work. There’s jobs out there, they’re all over the place. Just need people willing to put in the effort,” Justice says.