This week, the United States Department of Labor released the most recent jobs numbers that showed our nation had a record number of job openings in April at 9.3 million, surging by almost a million from the month before. This tells me a few things, but most importantly it shows that the job creators, which are largely entrepreneurs and small businesses, are delivering for our economy. Many of them benefited from programs like the Paycheck Protection Program but their success is largely due to grit and perseverance. Even businesses that received two PPP loans didn’t come close to covering expenses throughout the pandemic. Importantly, so many of the small businesses I talk to highlight how the local community rallied around them and made sure to patronize their favorite places.
The unfortunate story these numbers tell is the very large problem facing our economy: finding workers. After more than a year of either being forced or literally paid to stay home, millions of workers are reluctant to return to work. In some cases, it’s hard to blame them. When the government offers a person a raise to not work, many accept. Across the U.S. “help wanted” signs can be found in the windows of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, florists, hardware stores – you name it. As the top Republican on the Small Business Committee, I continue to hear stories from business owners across the nation who are ready to sign paychecks but can’t find enough workers to fill the positions. In many cases, this labor shortage is forcing businesses to raise their prices which hurts consumers and is simply unsustainable over time.
Despite the fact that we have been open for business for a while here in Missouri, we are unfortunately no exception in this struggling American labor market. Life in Missouri has gone back to normal for most but there are still hundreds of thousands of positions that haven’t been filled. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jackie and I were at one of our favorite restaurants by the Lake. There was a fifteen-minute wait but only half the tables were full. Not because of COVID restrictions, but because there weren’t enough workers to wait tables. This is a common theme I hear in countless towns in our area. Again, people are smart. If you can make more by staying home, you do it. Have you ever heard someone say they took a new job because it pays less money?
Fortunately, Governor Parson recognized the fact that paying people pandemic-related unemployment benefits when businesses across the state are hiring was doing major damage to our economy. To remedy this problem, he will be ending pandemic-related unemployment benefits next week and I am grateful for his leadership and helping life in our state get back to normal.
Now that kids are back in school, daycares have reopened, and businesses are wide open, jobs are ready and available for anyone who needs one. Not only does Missouri have hundreds of thousands of job openings, we are also number one in the country for small business wage growth, meaning these are good, well-paying jobs. For any Missourians facing unemployment or employers looking to hire, the Missouri Office of Workforce Development is a great resource. You can visit their website at app-jobs.mo.gov or call 888-728-JOBS (5627). Missouri’s economy gets stronger every single day, and I’m hopeful that businesses will soon be able to fill all their employee vacancies so our state can get back to historic success.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter and Instagram.