‘We need help’: Small business owners looking for employees as job openings reach highest point on record

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 8:02 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A near 80-degree day meant the patio at Joe’s “Older Than Dirt” was open for business.

It’s a patio that has kept owner Cres Bride’s business afloat throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve lost about 25% of our business,” Bride said. “Which is pretty good compared to the other restaurants in this city.”

Bride said he’s only lost about 5% of his staff during the pandemic. However, he’s having trouble finding new employees as he prepares his restaurant for the summer months.

“My normal process is to go to Facebook to find new employees,” Bride said, “and generally when I make a post, I receive 20 responses within a four-to-five day period. And right now I’ve only received two responses.”

Down New La Grange Road, Najla Aswad is having a similar problem. Her business, Najla’s Specialty Foods, is down six employees. She told WAVE 3 News that has forced her to work more than 400 days in a row and has made it tough for her and her team to bake and fill her customers’ orders on time.

“It’s like a brushfire out there,” Aswad said. “All of a sudden all of these companies are opening up with the expectation that all of these people are going to flock to employment and nobody is applying or they’re not showing up.”

Bride and Aswad are not the only employers looking to hire; according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national job openings rate rose to 4.9%, the highest number since the data was first tracked in December 2000.

The increase reflects a rise in open jobs to 7.4 million nationwide, significantly higher than the pre-pandemic level of 7 million. The data come from the job openings and labor turnover survey which reports the number of job listings, total hiring, layoffs, and quits.

“Everybody is hiring,” Aswad said. “There is not one small business person that I have talked to that is not having the same challenges that we are. We need help.”

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