October 2021

Columbus Conversation: Why are so many jobs unfilled when thousands are unemployed?

Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch
By Alan D. Miller
October 22, 2021

On the tailgates of semi-trucks, on billboards and in storefront windows, we see the help-wanted signs along with offers of signing bonuses of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The labor shortage has created market pressures that have pushed up wages well beyond minimum wage. Employers are offering extra incentives to new employees, and some are curtailing store hours or cordoning off parts of their restaurant dining rooms for lack of staffing.

And yet, the unemployment rate is more than 5%, and according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, that means more than 300,000 people in Ohio alone are out of work.

How do these two facts square up? Thousands of people are out of work, and employers across the state are desperate for workers. How can that be?

As with so many topics, the answer can be complicated, and we at The Dispatch have brought together a group of experts to talk with you about this. We hope that you will join us at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for another Dispatch Columbus Conversation moderated by Opinion and Engagement Editor Amelia Robinson.

“This is a topic that the community has been talking about because it affects so many aspects of our lives,” said Robinson, who will host the forum live on the Dispatch Facebook page. “The future of the labor market is going to be completely different going forward because of COVID and related factors.

“The narrative,” she said, “is that people don’t want to work, and we want to see if that holds true.”

As is often the case, the issue is complicated and multi-layered, which is why Robinson invited a group of experts to dig into those layers with us and begin to answer questions that you might have about them.

Columbus Conversation: Why aren’t people working?
As with all of the Dispatch Columbus Conversations, sponsored by The Columbus Foundation and Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service as part of the Dispatch’s 150th anniversary events, those who tune in for Tuesday’s live event have an opportunity to ask questions of the panelists. They are:

Mark Fluharty, executive director of the Central Ohio Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Shawn Hendrix, president of Nissen Chemitec America and the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership
Stephanie Hightower, CEO of the Columbus Urban League
Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics
Dwobeng Owusu-Nyamekye, dean of the College of Professional Studies and assistant professor of management at Wilberforce University
Rance Robinson, entrepreneur, real estate and photography
Sheila Trautner, president of Taste Hospitality Group and board chair of the Ohio Restaurant Association

We hope that you’ll join us on at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on Facebook Live.

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