Southwest Louisiana employers continue to experience worker shortage

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Just about every business you go to, hiring signs are posted. Short staffing effects the amount of time you wait for food, or even forces a business to close for the day if an employee calls in.

“We are seeing unprecedented shortages for labor,” owner of The Panorama Music House, Jay Ecker said.

It’s a familiar situation for Southwest Louisiana business owners, like Ecker, who said they’ve went to extreme measures to get employees hired.

“We’ve had to do things we haven’t had to do before,” Ecker said. “I’ve reached out to relatives, I’ve reached out to former students, I’ve reached out to retired people.”

The shortage requires Ecker to work to keep up quality standards.

“Owners and managers pitch in a lot more, but quality suffers, and it affects us every day,” Ecker said.

Despite what seems like a dire situation, associate professor at McNeese State University and economist Daniel Groft said our area is in line with the rest of the country.

He said data suggests hourly earnings have increased as employers try to entice workers with more dollar signs.

“Even though average hours have fallen, they have leveled off and started going up a little,” Goft said. “So, we are seeing average hourly earnings of jobs go up, but they are not keeping up with the large inflation we are seeing.”

One factor is the actual available labor. It’s lower as a result of the 2020 storms but also the number of people willing and able.

“The total amount of people that are willing and able to work is lower still compared to Laura, and it’s much lower prior to the pandemic,” Groft said. “We have about 3,500 unemployed people right now, and depending on the measure you look at, we have enough jobs.”