Job openings, but Staunton businesses still seeing labor shortages

Isabel Brown pours a pint of beer at Second Draft inside the Blackburn Inn on Aug. 26, 2021.

STAUNTON — The words “now hiring” can be seen on almost every business sign through Staunton. 

Area businesses are trying everything to get people in the door and behind the counter to work, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Restaurants have cut hours and even closed on days they used to be open. Hotels are working with skeleton crews and doubling up on jobs to get things done. Job fairs are being held with extra bonuses for those who apply. 

While local businesses are struggling to fill open positions, the state’s unemployment rate is dropping. The rate fell to 4.2% in July, which is 3.7 percentage points below the rate from last year.

The problem is, no one really knows why this is happening. 

Laura Leduc, a professor in James Madison University’s department of management, said there’s a number of factors of why people aren’t returning to work. A couple reasons may include: there’s more risk in going into work now with little reward; or finding childcare is a daunting task; also wages have stagnated for decades.