Businesses Struggle to Find Workers

Perhaps the most often mentioned factor is the pandemic bonus money attached to unemployment benefits.

Help-wanted signs can be seen all over the Greater Lansing area, but many openings are going unfilled.

There are a number of factors why people are staying home without jobs in the post-pandemic setting, such as the disruption of the child care industry and children staying home for virtual education. Yet perhaps the most often mentioned factor is the pandemic bonus money attached to unemployment benefits. At one point that was $600 a week. Why take a job when unemployment pays better? Kathy Valentine, owner of The Plant Professionals in Lansing, thinks that’s the case.

“There are people who felt this was the time to protect themselves rather than work for low wages when they can make significantly more on unemployment,” Valentine said. “I can’t blame a person for choosing to put their own family first. If I made $10 an hour working or $16 per hour on unemployment, I would be crazy to go back to work.”

One segment of the labor market that returned to work as soon as allowed was manufacturing, according to Cindy Kangas, executive director of the Capital Area Manufacturing Council.

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“Many of them took little, if any, time off during the pandemic. They were all deemed essential,” Kangas said. “The need for manufacturing has been growing, so many of our members are expanding and have continued to look for employees.”

Disruptions in the supply line also hinder manufacturers. Local factories are helping ease that gap, but they face another barrier.

“There are so many amazing manufacturers right here in our backyard shipping their products globally, so there is an additional challenge with transportation,” Kangas noted.

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