Last night the Missoulian put up a story about service industry employers struggling to find workers.
They focused on the Black Cat Bakery shop, and how they have to close on Mondays now because they don’t have enough workers. The owner is working 6 days a week, 60 hours a week.
They get few applicants, and those they do get often decline the job, accept but then don’t show up, or say they’d rather just keep getting unemployment.
I work in the downtown service industry, so I’ve been hearing similar stories for over a month now.
Many businesses aren’t opening on Sunday and Monday. If they do, it’s often reduced hours. Currently the Depot and Pangea are closed on those days.
Every fast food place around town is desperately trying to hire. Many of those places are offering higher wages than the local mom-and-pop joints.
Black Cat mentioned they can’t really pay workers more because they can't raise prices. As it is, a pastry is $3.75 and they claim people won’t pay $4.75.
I think they will.
The economy is awash in easy, fresh-off-the-presses money. The Fed just keeps printing it and sending it out.
Black Cat only offers $10.50 an hour to work for them.
- Why would I work there when I can go up to Pyramid Lumber in Seeley Lake and make $17 with no experience, plus full benefits and healthcare?
- Why would I work at the bakery when I can get a roofing job, 4 days a week, 10 hours a day, for over $15 an hour with benefits and healthcare?
Because I hear those two ads on the radio, all day everyday and have been for nearly two months now. Those employers are just as desperate as the bakery, but they pay a helluva lot more and give out extras.
How can the bakery compete with that? Obviously from the article, they cannot.
So what is the solution? I believe there are two.
What is the first solution?
You have to do something about the lack of affordable housing. But all the 'experts' around town say that the available housing stock won't increase this year and probably not well into next. That'll do nothing to help these struggling small businesses as summer hits.
I encourage you to look at the comments on this Missoulian article on Facebook. So many are bringing up the housing angle, and how - with average rents of nearly $1,000, which is nearly 60% of the earnings someone making $10.50 an hour gets (if full-time) - you just can't afford to live in town.
How long do you think someone's going to drive from Frenchtown or Stevensville or Clinton or Evaro or Alberton before they realize it's a hassle, the gas is too expensive, and they can just find another job doing something else, perhaps in an industry where they don't have to take shit about masks and social distancing?
There’s nowhere to live. Rental vacancies are less than 1% and most people that waste hundreds on application fees never land a place. So they leave Missoula, and likely Montana, and go somewhere else, somewhere with opportunity. I hear Florida is nice this time of year, Texas not far behind.
Yeah, there might be jobs in Missoula, but if you can’t find a place to live, so what? Even if you can find a place, how much money are you going to have left over to actually enjoy the area you live? Not much. Young people know this, so they’re leaving...have been for years.
And what is the second solution?
I think it’s amazingly obvious - stop these extended unemployment benefits that are now stretching all the way to October!
This is going to kill Missoula small businesses during this tourist-heavy summer, but maybe that’s the idea. If we get rid of these small mom-and-pops, then only the corporate behemoths will be left. All the old owners will now just be corporate managers, working for somebody else with less freedom in their lives.
That’s what our government wants, what the deep state wants, and what the Fed wants - control, less freedom, more dependence.
The unemployment is just pathetic and is killing this country’s spirit and work ethic. Why work when the government just gives me the money for free?
At the high point last spring and summer, the state and the feds were giving me $760 every week!
That fell down to around $140 a week when the feds matching funds ended, but then boosted back up to around $350 after Thanksgiving.
That lasted until March 10 and then...nothing.
That’s when the federal side of the unemployment benefits ended, were renewed, necessitating a new application for anyone applying. I of course put mine in right away, but have not seen a dime of unemployment money in over 4 weeks now.
I’ve applied every week since then. That state even sent me a letter in the mail encouraging me to apply.
That’s kind of funny, because I’m working over 15 hours a week now. I tell them that on my unemployment application, that I used to work 30 hours a week before this all started.
So because I was affected by the pandemic, and still am in many ways, I qualify.
Do I need the money? Of course not! I think most getting the money don’t need it. I put a lot of mine into gold, silver, crypto, and hopefully later today when the IPO happens, Coinbase stock.
The feds want me to put it into my local economy, and I do - for the heavily-inflated foodstuffs at the local supermarket.
I figure I’ll get a huge, lump-sum unemployment deposit in my bank account one day, making up for the past 4 weeks of nothing.
Most others are figuring that as well, so they’re not putting in applications around town. It’s going to be a tough summer for small businesses, because once the fun and sun of the river and folfing and hiking and camping takes over, few young people are going to want to work.
The big difference between this and yesteryear is that they don’t have to - the government is paying them not to.
And there is absolutely no way for this to end before October, because Congress already encoded it into law. Worse, they’ll probably extend the benefits well-into 2022.
If not, Dems might lose Congress that coming fall, and we couldn’t have that.
So small business owners here in Missoula will have to take one for the Democratic Team in D.C., for Peloci and AOC and good ol’ Chuck from New York.
Chances are good that the owners of Black Cat voted for Dems last November anway, so why wouldn’t they want to take one for the team?
Oh, that’s right...they already are.
Kind of funny - Dems control the White House, Congress, and every office here in Missoula...yet Democratic business owners have never suffered more than they are now.
Why is that?