I have a few issues with this, and not what you might expect.
First, check this out:
“And then this:
“Consistent with the past year, labor continues to be the biggest issue we are facing. Finding and retaining labor — skilled and unskilled — is highly challenging and frustrating. As the challenges continue, we are not accepting all the work that we could if we had the labor.” (Construction)
Which is to be expected when the government pays "workers" more to do no work.”
“Mark Fox, a Dublin native who lives in New York City, owns four restaurants in the Big Apple. While business is now finally starting to pick up, hiring troubles have slowed down the momentum.
“We have difficulty hiring hourly workers, bartenders, servers, bar-backs, busboys, runners, overnight cleaning staff,” Fox told The Epoch Times inside his flagship restaurant, The Ragtrader & Bo Peep Cocktail and Highball Store.
“We are probably 60 employees short,” he said. “I have one restaurant in Greenwich Village that I haven’t reopened yet because they don’t have the manpower.”
According to Fox, the biggest factor behind the difficulty in hiring is the enhanced unemployment benefits, which now extend until the beginning of September. While he stressed it was necessary earlier in the pandemic, he believes the federal government has continued it for too long.
“It’s not financially beneficial for [people] to return to work,” he said. “So we’re in a real crisis with respect to labor shortfall.”
When you hear stories like this from other states, it seems like Gianforte has the right idea here in Montana.
And it’s not like we haven't heard similar here.
"We made this difficult choice because we are unable to find enough staff to maintain consistent operations in this location," Kalispell’s Montana Coffee Traders said last month of their decision to close one location to alleviate the burnout of their current employees.
Next, we know that Montana lost 10,000 workers since the lockdowns started, but we have 14,000 jobs listed on the state websites. I’m sure there are a lot more open jobs out there.
Finally, we have 25,000 people in the state’s unemployment rolls right now.
So even if we got those 10,000 workers back, we’d still have a workforce shortage of 4,000 people...unless we get a lot of those 25,000 back to work.
But is it that simple?
I think we need to realize it’s not unemployment alone that’s impacting our employers; it’s not just lazy people that don’t want to work.
I think many do want to work, but can’t for two main reasons: lack of affordable housing and lack of affordable childcare.
And let’s be honest and just take the word ‘affordable’ out, because there’s no housing or childcare period, at any price.
With a rental vacancy rate of less than 1% in Missoula, and wait-lists for many of the area’s daycares and preschools...how exactly is a common worker supposed to work?
I think one reason many employers in Missoula are having problems finding workers - specifically the lower-paying service industry - is that these workers have been priced out of the Missoula housing/rental market.
So they have to move to places like Florence or Lolo or Stevensville or Alberton and drive for 30 or 40 minutes to get to work, and the same amount to get back home. It’s even harder if you have kids who need daycare.
Is that worth it? And can you find an affordable place to live there? When faced with moving out of Missoula to one of our bedroom communities, I think many are just throwing in the towel and leaving western Montana altogether for better housing, employment, and childcare options in other states.
So many in Missoula have come here from somewhere else, and over the past year, many of them have gone back to those places. The people that have moved in aren’t interested in filling the jobs the others have left.
I know this goes into the face of what Gianforte is saying to the media today, but let’s be honest - most of the people that moved here over the past year are not line cooks and dishwashers, construction workers and cashiers. No, mostly they’re of the professional class, people with advanced degrees and marketable skills, people that do not work for hourly wages.
And let’s discuss something that no one else will - the animosity and resentment this decision by Gianforte will create among current workers.
Because guess what? I went back to work as soon as health restrictions were lifted on bars and restaurants last summer, stayed at work until new restrictions were imposed last winter when I was laid-off again, then came back again earlier this year.
There was never any bonus for me. In fact, a few weeks after I went back to work this year, the state stopped giving me state unemployment and the federal enhancement to that.
I was punished for going back to work early; now all the people that are going to go back to work late will be given a reward.
My, that makes me sick.
Where’s my $1,200 for busting my ass, doing a job two people or more should have been doing...and for the same pay, by the way?
It’s because people that have a work ethic don’t matter as much as those that don’t; Gianforte is rewarding the lazy while punishing the hardworking.
That’s what you’re telling all of us that have been working for most of the past year, and it makes us sick.
Now, what about the 25,000 people on the unemployment rolls right now in this state?
By implementing these changes, Gianforte will undoubtedly get many of those people back to work, either full-time or part-time. But will they go to work for the businesses that need them the most, the low-wage positions that pay $9 to $11 an hour?
I’m going to predict right now that by August, we’ll still have a worker shortage in the service industry and other low-wage jobs.
Here's something else to consider: the $1,200 bonus for working for 4 weeks might give a slight boost to the economy this summer as well, though I think tourist spending will be what we’re all talking about. And let's be honest - $1,200 for someone living close to poverty will probably end up all going to rent, power, internet, and the phone bill...if it even covers all that.
So really, who's this helping?
A lot of businesses are worried about the upcoming busy tourist season, and their lack of workers to manage it. This move by Gianforte will help them, somewhat.
It’s just that the lack of childcare and housing is going to play its part, and I think in a month or two, we’ll hear the same story we’re hearing now from employers - they can’t find the workers they need.
Gianforte aims to solve the unemployment part of this problem over the next few months. That’s one piece of the puzzle.
Sadly, housing and childcare can’t be solved as quickly. The former will take years to solve, and likely a decade or more. Local businesses are going to have a tough time until then.
But maybe Gianforte has some 'big ideas' for those problems as well, eh?