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Where did all of the workers go?

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 11:55 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Businesses are operating with low staff, restaurants are open fewer days, and many materials are scarce. The workforce crisis doesn’t seem to be getting better. Leaving everyone wondering where have all our workers gone?

For months, employers across the nation are saying there are not enough workers to go around.

Executive Director of Alabama Retired State Employees Association, Liane Kelly says many retired early.

“There are more people retiring, but I think the interesting thing is they are retiring for different reasons,” said Kelly.

But Kelly says the driving force was the pandemic itself and it’s only picked up over the past few months.

“A lot of our grandparent’s members said hey we need to stay home and help our kids. They need to work. We can retire,” said Kelly.

But, child care is also taking workers out of the workforce before retirement.

Mother of 3, Tara Murphree did not agree with her school district’s mask policy so her husband left his job.

“My husband has had to quit his job to homeschool our children. So we are taking a financial hit, but it is what we are doing in the best interest of our children,” said Murphree.

Another change, people who used to work in restaurants or the travel industry are finding higher-paying jobs in areas like manufacturing.

External Affairs Specialist with Mazda Toyota Manufacturing says, “We have received applications from interested candidates from all over North Alabama, including applicants from the restaurant industry, service industries, and even insurance salespeople.”

Governor Ivey says there are more jobs available today than before the pandemic. She also announced Alabama’s unemployment rate is trending downward. Currently, it is sitting at 3.1% and before the pandemic, it was around 2.8%.

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