‘It’s going to get worse’; Data show staffing shortages may not be getting better anytime soon

Where are the workers?
Where are the workers?(Fort Wayne's NBC)
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - We hear it all the time, staffing shortages are affecting businesses across the county. So many have been asking the question, where are the workers?

Mancino’s owner Tabitha Gray says she’s struggled with hiring since the beginning of the pandemic, but right now it’s worse. She says they’ve had to close early several times and even reduce their hours. Gray says they can’t seem to get people to apply for the jobs, despite raising their wages to $17 per/hour.

“The beginning of COVID was tough, but this right now is ten times worse than what it was back at the beginning of 2020,” Gray said. “This right now, this is worse.”

If you think there’s a problem with staffing shortages now, Purdue Fort Wayne’s Community Research Center Director Rachel Blakeman says, it’s going to get worse.

“Looking at worker projections, if you thought it was a problem now, it’s going to get worse,” Blakeman said. “It’s going to get worse.”

She says a big part of the workforce is the baby boomers who are retiring or simply working less as they age out. She says there’s also just been more people leaving Fort Wayne than those coming here to work and fill empty jobs.

“We have what I call the Fort Wayne Wage penalty,” Blakeman said. “If you work in Fort Wayne, it’s likely you are being paid less than you would on a national scale.”

Blakeman says she’s been researching the issue and gave a presentation Monday at the Fort Wayne Rotary Club. She says, in Allen County, wages don’t compare to the cost of living. She says she believes a lot of people are leaving Fort Wayne to go to cities like Indianapolis where there’s a similar cost of living but higher wages. To add to that, she says the average wage in Allen County is about $14,000 less than the national average.

So, when will it get better?

“Well, the numbers do tell us it’s going to get better by 2045 to 2055, we’re decades out,” she said.

That information is found other places too. The U.S. Census Bureau data show the number of workers are growling slowly, but there is no sign of a true “return to normal” until maybe 2060.

Business owners say while it’s going to take a while to get better, they need the help now in order to remain open.

Copyright 2022 Fort Wayne’s NBC. All rights reserved.