Worker shortage affecting southern Minnesota businesses

Across the state and nation, businesses say they’ve had trouble attracting workers
Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The greater Mankato hospitality industry and overall economy are trying to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest issue for this sector right now is finding hired help to get area businesses back on their feet.

”There is a lot of need for people who are willing to come out and serve the public,” said Jessica Oachs, co-owner of Spinners Bar and Grill in North Mankato.

The pandemic has been hard on a lot of areas, but especially the hospitality industry and southern Minnesota’s economy.

With restrictions lifted, vaccines being administered and the lack of a mask mandate, a lot of businesses are starting to tackle the bigger issue at play, which is a shortage of workers.

“If we keep continuing to give sub-par service because we don’t have the staff, then people aren’t going to come back either. I think if we don’t get the workforce in place and people come out then people won’t start visiting those places anymore,” Oachs added.

Across the state and nation, businesses say they’ve had trouble attracting workers.

“We need more staff, and I know a lot of people need more staff and if people aren’t going to be able to come, then there are going to have to be changes in the way we operate our business,” Oachs said.

Possible issues include unemployment benefits from the state and some people still concerned about working during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a shortage in the workforce across all industry sectors and in particular the hospitality industry is hit hard just coming out of the pandemic,” explained Ryan Vesey, economic development specialist at Greater Mankato Growth. “It’s a major challenge. Right now, we view it as the single greatest challenge to our communities’ recovery from COVID-19.”

This issue has come to the top of the list for Greater Mankato Growth.

“Really this is the number one concern right now that we are working through,” CEO and president of Greater Mankato Growth, Jessica Beyer said.

A lot of businesses have had to make adjustments and even reduce hours of operations due to being short-staffed.

Greater Mankato Growth also sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Monday asking that “the State take further action in creating accountability measures for unemployment beneficiaries” and requested “the State consider implementation of a reporting system for those individuals receiving unemployment benefits who refuse a suitable offer of employment or who skip interviews once scheduled.”

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