Will more people get jobs with federal unemployment benefits ending? La Crosse expert says it is more complex than it seems

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Employers — locally and nationally– are struggling to hire workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are nearly 11 million job openings.

Java Vino in La Crosse hasn’t been immune to low staffing throughout the pandemic.

“We are definitely feeling the crunch of the labor shortage,” Java Vino owner Tina Schumaker said.

Schumaker says some workers are scheduling themselves in two positions at one time.

“We are currently even discussing the unwanted, ” she said. “We need to close for a day here or there.”

And now, with the federal unemployment benefits ending, Schumaker wonders what that will mean for her business.

“I hope it’s going to help us hire more people here with the ending of the benefits,” Schumaker said. “I’m not sure that it will.”

Experts say it is not an isolated issue.

“It’s very complex,” Workforce Connections-La Crosse executive director Teresa Pierce said. “The complexity has to do, again, back to things that were happening before the pandemic that are now just exacerbated because of the pandemic.”

Pierce says people are still having trouble with their child care.

Many folks are also ditching their old jobs in search of better pay.

The restaurant and retail industries have a history of offering lower wages without many benefits.

“And so, people who have a choice will go to jobs that have those benefits available to them,” Pierce said.

Schumaker says Java Vino has offered signing bonuses and free apparel to pull in more applicants.

But in her eyes, the market has to stabilize first before getting back on track.

“While we’re busy and that’s a great thing, we’re super, super challenged,” Schumaker said.

Pierce says many baby boomers are retiring, so there’s more people leaving their jobs than coming in.

Technology is also playing a major role because it can cancel out the need for a person to do the job.

Pierce says possible solutions to help solve the shortage is looking at the minimum wage, as well as quality housing and child care.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent.

That is lower than the national average of 5.2 percent.

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