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Kentucky, Indiana businesses seeking ways to decrease staffing shortages

Many businesses are still trying to get back on their feet after the pandemic.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 11:08 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The United States created 390,000 new jobs in May, with the unemployment rate staying at 3.6 percent for the third straight month. Is Kentucky and Indiana seeing the same growth?

Businesses are still trying to get back on their feet after the pandemic.

The new job growth numbers are a sign things are moving in the right direction, but for some industries, they’re still searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

The restaurant industry in Kentucky is hoping for even a fraction of those new job numbers.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we were really low and we did see wages increase, which is great,” Stacy Roof from the Kentucky Restaurant Association said. “But we still haven’t seen as many people come back as we need.”

Normally, when someone says the phrase “pre-pandemic,” they’re referring to a good thing. Restaurants have struggled throughout the pandemic, but things weren’t exactly rosy before it either.

They’re still not doing well now.

“I think most restaurants would tell you that the demand and their product is not the issue,” Roof said. “The issue is that they could be really making up some ground that they lost the last couple of years if the staffing levels were increased.”

In education, teachers are a high demand. JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio warns of a crisis if schools can’t acquire and keep teachers.

“As a Commonwealth, as a legislature, as a nation, we are going to have to start funding schools at higher rates to ensure that we can compensate our teachers, attract more teachers to the profession than ever before, because the real crisis will come in 10 years,” Pollio said.

JCPS is giving a raise to their employees and an extra stipend to their teachers.

Higher wages are important to would-be workers, but it’s not the only reason for the exodus of workers.

“I think it’s just a combination of folks that were like ‘I was close to retirement and I’m just calling it over,’” Roof said. “Or ‘I wasn’t doing something I loved so I changed industries.’ It’ll probably take us years to unravel all the effects of the pandemic.”

A lot of last month’s job growth comes from industries like leisure and hospitality, business and professional services, education, and government.

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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