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Local businesses searching for answers to staffing shortages

Some De Pere businesses are still operating with reduced hours
Posted at 12:34 AM, Sep 27, 2022

DE PERE — Walk in to the Abbey Bar & Grill in De Pere and you'll find signs advertising job openings posted all around.

This isn't something unique to the longtime restaurant just steps from the campus of St. Norbert College.

Across the river, Strada Pizzeria has a sign on the door explaining that the restaurant is currently closed as they look for more staff.

Mark Schaffer, and economics professor at St. Norbert College, says that while some sectors of the job market have rebounded quickly, others have struggled to bring workers back that left during the pandemic.

"The leisure hospitality industry, that's one area that definitely took a hit in the pandemic and while it's bounced back a lot, there's still a long way to go in terms of that sector in particular," said Schaffer.

Schaffer says one of the main trends in the job market is the continued preference of flexible schedules and remote work. Another major trend is the great resignation.

"Quits are just as high as job openings and if you think about what's happening in the market, you're seeing a lot of people move for opportunity so they're quitting their jobs which is creating more openings," said Schaffer.

Another factor in the worker shortage is the aging working population across the state and country as a whole.

Schaffer says that the percentage of population in the workforce has steadily declined for decades.

All of this has combined to put more pressure on local businesses.

"The business model that we're operating on right now, I'm not sure if its sustainable," said Abbey Bar & Grill owner Kerry Counard.

He says he's been in business for 32 years and has never struggled to hire new employees until the last two years.

While Schaffer says the labor market still greatly favors prospective workers, he's noticed a slight shift beginning and believes that within around six months things could improve for local business owners.