Sunday, May 23, 2021

A stifling worker shortage threatens Nashville's recovery

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In downtown Nashville, honky-tonks rattle back to life, peddle taverns crowd the streets and bartenders can’t pour fast enough. 

The post-pandemic business boom arrived as expected. But one big, unexpected challenge stands in the way of a full recovery: There aren’t enough workers to keep up with a national surge in demand. 

“I’m working in the kitchen today,” said restaurant and bar owner Barrett Hobbs, who ordinarily spends his days filing paperwork. “We don’t have enough cooks to pull off a normal lunch, My family has owned businesses here since the ’50s and none of us have ever seen anything like this.” 

Hobbs raised wages and offers incentives like sign-on bonuses and raffles for paid vacations, but still spends his days recruiting and troubleshooting problems around being understaffed. He has lots of company. There were 166,704 unemployed Tennesseans and more than 250,000 advertised jobs in April, state labor officials reported. (read  more)

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