April 24, 2021

A struggle to find workers for small businesses

According to the Department of Employment and Workforce, there are 85,000 job openings in the…

According to the Department of Employment and Workforce, there are 85,000 job openings in the state.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If your a small business owner in South Carolina you’re probably feeling as if its just one thing after another these days. 

With some small businesses closing or “pausing” because of the pandemic in the last year and now as more people get vaccinated and are venturing out, those same small businesses are struggling to find workers. 

Experts say those in the hospitality industry are being hit the hardest.

Beginning with restaurant owners. 

 As Melissa Harden a manager at Burger Tavern 77 on Devine Street, will tell you, the struggle is real. 

“It’s a daunting, we are desperate to hire kitchen staff,” she says. 

She’s advertised positions on social media and job boards. “We’ve hit almost a desperate point,” she says, “I have been here for eight years and I have never seen it this bad.”

And with Summer right around the corner, Harden and many other small business owners are scrambling to find staff.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), this March, 42% of South Carolinian business owners reported a job opening they couldn’t fill. 

The numbers breakdown to about 34% looking for skilled workers and 19% are looking for unskilled workers.

Ben Homeyer from the NFIB says 10,000 jobs are currently listed on the states Labor Licensing and Regulation job site. “Fifty-six percent of small businesses were trying to hire in the month of March,” says Homeyer.

“We’re competing against unemployment benefits, its keeping a lot of people out of the labor force,” he adds.

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According to the Department of Employment and Workforce, this is highest number of jobs posted at one time, in three years.

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Brian Nottingham with Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) agrees. “With the additional federal benefits of $300 a week there is definitely the possibility that individuals could be making more money now than when they were working.”

DEW this week implemented a new rule, requiring South Carolinans show they’ve applied for two jobs each week, in order to continue to receive their benefits. 

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According to DEW’s latest unemployment rates. Richland County is at 4.9%, Lexington County, 3.7%, Sumter County, 5.5% and Orangeburg County is 7.8%.

Nottingham says the spike in job postings is because more people are returning to post-COVID life.

According to DEW, about 116,000 people are receiving unemployment benefits each week.