Writer: Joey Garrand
2 min read August 2021 — Amid what has been a relatively successful economic recovery from last year’s worldwide work stoppage, there is a roadblock prohibiting a full speed rebound in Pittsburgh — workforce.
Businesses are not able to find adequate staffing, and it’s even caused some to go out of business according to the Executive Director of the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber, Lynda Pozzuto.
“We have businesses closing, businesses that can’t be open at their normal hours because of staffing. That’s all I keep hearing from everybody. It’s the No. 1 issue and it doesn’t matter what field it is,” stated Pozzuto in an interview with Invest:. “It’s not only that they just have shortages, it’s causing businesses to close permanently.”
Mark Hilliard, president of the Indiana County Chamber echoed similar sentiments. “Truthfully, the main issues right now that are preventing businesses from opening up as they were prior to the pandemic is workforce and the disruption to the supply chain. Other than workforce and supply chain issues, businesses are feeling as if things are on an upward trajectory and are heading closer to normal,” Hilliard told Invest:.
There seems to be no one main culprit responsible for the workforce shortage. According to an interview by Pittsburgh Business Times with Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc, the causes of this workforce shortage include child care centers not being fully reopened, a lack of in-person educational instruction, fear of COVID-19, increased rates of retirement among a workforce that is older on average than the nation as a whole and increased unemployment insurance benefits.
As of June 2021, there were 31,847 unfilled job openings in Pittsburgh.
With regards to unemployment benefits, more than a half-million Pennsylvanians receiving temporary aid from three federal unemployment programs will see that support end as of September 4. Although it is unclear at this point what effect this will have on Greater Pittsburgh’s workforce shortage, there is a shared sentiment that it could be beneficial towards resolving the issue.
Despite workforce challenges and uncertainty regarding the evolving COVID-19 virus, business and community leaders remain optimistic. “I’m excited about where we’re heading and I’m anxious to see what the next steps are going to be. In the beginning of 2020, we were feeling a lot of this same anticipation and excitement, feeling that 2020 was going to be a big year for Indiana County. Obviously, we were wrong as no one could have foreseen the pandemic, but that positive and encouraging outlook that we had at the beginning of 2020 is returning right now. I truly feel that once we start to round the corner at the end of this year and get back on track, 2022 is poised to be a big year for us and that’s going to set the stage for big things to come,” said Hilliard.