Worker shortage causing issues locally

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – You may have noticed “we’re hiring” signs all over the place and even some hiring tents placed out and about.

The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Ron Bunch said unemployment in the area is very high and the impact is causing a slew of changes in the local workforce.

“Employers are doing what they have to do, meaning that they are automating. So, you are going to see much more automations in manufacturing. You’re going to have much more capitol intensive projects. But in restaurants and other things you’re going to direct service or to a kiosk and so some of that labor may get replaced forever,” said Bunch.

If you hate self-check outs and ordering food online, this change may not be your favorite news.

According to Bunch, many people are remaining on unemployment because they make more money than they would going back to work.

“We’re looking at about 8,000 people that should be engaged in the workforce that are not. So, if those 8,000 people just came back like they should, you’d have a lot better balance of things. You’d have a lot better services provided, better product going out the door, you’d have a better quality of life for the existing employees that it is today. Because all the employers care about their people, but they need others to come to the table too and get back to work,” said Bunch.

For example, Western Kentucky University’s restaurant group has been holding a job fair in University Parking Lot for two days now desperately trying to fill several positions.

“We are looking for full time and part time positions. We have full benefits, vacation, PTO. Any flexible schedules work for us and our positions are starting at $11 an hour, but with experience, we can work around that,” said Brittany Smittle with the WKU Restaurant Group.

Bunch also said promotions are seemingly happening at a faster rate right now and for the future, he encourages people without a high school diploma or G.E.D. to attain one to be able to compete with automation in the future.

Employers are also offering higher pay for workers to return to work but doing so has already impacted inflation and Bunch says in reality, the wage hike is hurting middle class workers.