Help wanted: Springfield businesses face critical need for workers as pandemic nears its end

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — With the economy rebounding from the pandemic, many businesses can’t find enough help to keep up with production.

Businesses in the hospitality industry such as hotels, restaurants and retail can’t seem to find enough employees.  With local unemployment hovering at a low 4.2%, Tracy Kimberlin with the Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) said the pool of people available for work is small.  

“It impacts customer service,” said Kimberlin. “I know of restaurants that cannot sit people at tables, not because they don’t have space, but because they have nobody.”

Thousands across the Ozarks were laid off when the pandemic hit. It seems most of them didn’t wait around and moved to find other jobs.

To attract workers, employers are offering incentives, such as higher pay and sign-on bonuses.

“I was talking to a hotel general manager just the other day and the management has been cleaning rooms because they can’t find workers to clean rooms,” said Kimberlin. “And, they actually had to turn away business because they couldn’t get the rooms clean that they needed to get clean to accommodate that business.”

Kimberlin said this issue will only cause more harm the longer it’s around.

“Unless we can find workers for the industry, the problem is going to get worse before it gets better,” said Kimberlin. “

According to the CVB, there were 22,000 people employed in the hospitality industry before the pandemic hit, that number has rebounded back to almost 20,000 people. This decrease in workers means restaurants and hotels are still short 2,000 people across the city.

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