HOUSTON - The government reports that a nationwide labor shortage continues with 11.3 million job openings posted across the country. It's all part of the topsy-turvy world created by the pandemic.
Before then, there were typically more unemployed people than job openings. Today, there are nearly two openings for every unemployed worker, leaving a lot of jobs undone. It's one more thing making costs higher, as employers struggle to operate effectively.
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That's part of the story at Nyammings Fusion Bistro in Richmond where the Caribbean - Soul Food kitchen is awash in delicious scents. The restaurant is the second location for former NFL defensive tackle and New York transplant Victor Allotey, who came to Texas nearly 20 years ago and liked what he saw.
"I'm movin' here to get away from the cold and the hustle and bustle of New York," he recalls. "This is it!"
He's got a number of businesses, but with some customers making a significant drive to enjoy his food, his plan to expand is missing one vital piece.
"I was looking to open Sugar Land about four months ago because I had a landlord reach out to me with a beautiful foot space and I wanted to open something over there," says Allotey. "But I can't find any employees, so I've to put that on pause."
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He says the problem started during the height of COVID. While trying to keep his doors open, he had jobs that no one wanted as expanded unemployment benefits seemed more lucrative than working for some.
"During my interview process, in the midst of COVID, a lot of people would be, like, 'How are you paying me? Under the table?', and I don't do that," he says. "(They said) 'Well, I don't want to mess with my unemployment'."
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Now, even without those expanded benefits expired, Allotey says he hears much the same response, even when more money is offered. It's a problem keeping his Texas business plans from being all he imagined.
"Before, we had a crisis where there wasn't jobs. Now we've got a glut of jobs and no one to fill 'em."
When the government will report job creation for March, the expectation is that employers will have hired roughly half a million people. It'll leave a way to go to fill all those empty positions.