The owner of Lucy’s Burgers in Blaine is working on ways to attract more help. Between the Blaine restaurant and one in White Bear Township, they are about 16 workers short.
“We’ve had to reduce capacity because we don’t have the staff to provide service for the whole restaurant,” said owner Rob Scott.
They’re not alone. Hiring signs are up in many places and a recent survey by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve shows 45 percent of businesses say their biggest challenge is finding enough workers.
Scott says he’s trying to get created in the hunt for workers.
“I personally have contacted the work houses in Anoka County and Ramsey County to see if they had non-violent inmates at the work houses that were looking for work,” said Scott. “I’ve contacted the parole offices at both Ramsey and Anoka Counties to see if they’ve had non-violent parolees looking for work, even shaking those trees hasn’t resulted in a single employee.”
The problem has even made it tough to find enough help at the newly re-built Bunker Beach Water Park. Despite raising the pay for life guard from $11 to $13.50 an hour, Anoka County was still looking to hire at least ten as the park opened for business in early June.
“We are challenged with hiring right now,” said County Parks Director Jeff Perry. “We do have minimum number of life guards to be able to safely and effectively operate the facility. If anyone is interested in becoming a life guard at Bunker Beach, hit Anoka County Parks.com, and we would be happy to take a look at you.”
Perry says it’s a nationwide problem affecting all sectors of the economy.
“We just happen to be one of the unfortunate recipients of having low numbers of folks available and willing to work.”
In order to bring more life guards on board, the county has brought training programs and certification in house. The county says lifeguard availability was limited in early June during early June since most of them were finishing the school year. Beginning Friday, June 11, the county expects Bunker Beach to resume normal hours of operation from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
At Lucy’s Burgers, Scott says pandemic relief like collecting extended unemployment benefits plays a role in reducing the labor pool.
“I think at the beginning, that was a prudent decision, if the goal was to try to keep folks socially distanced,” said Scott. “However I think we’re past that point and now the additional funds and the continual extensions of unemployment have made it hard for me to re-hire the folks we had to layoff.”
Scott says increased competition for workers like home construction is another factor. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the work force in Anoka County has dropped by 5,600 workers since just before the pandemic hit.