CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 vaccinations are abundantly available, so employers are wondering why so many people don’t want to work?
Many companies say they are struggling to find workers. The labor shortage is so significant that businesses like restaurants and bars are paying people to come for interviews. U.S. restaurants and stores are rapidly raising pay in an urgent effort to attract more applicants and keep up with a flood of customers as the pandemic eases. McDonald's, Sheetz and Chipotle are just some of the latest companies to follow Amazon, Walmart and Costco in boosting wages, in some cases to $15 an hour or higher.
Other fields of work impacted by the labor shortage are jobs like plumbers, HVAC and electricians. So many of these jobs are going unfilled.
One Charlotte business owner said he can put almost 100 people to work right now if they're trained and willing to work.
“Right now, if I had the opportunity, I’d hire 90 people and put them to work," Dean Kellum who runs Price Brothers. "There is that much work going on in the Charlotte area right now. The trades are struggling because they can’t keep up with the number of homes being built.”
A lot of people have theories on why so many jobs are open and so few people want them.
Some people are still worried about the threat of COVID-19, but WCNC Charlotte has received lots of emails asking if people are making more money in unemployment benefits than earning minimum wage. We verified that is accurate.
No matter the cause, it's frustrating employers as the unemployment rate hovers around 6.1%.
“It’s become a huge challenge for us,” Kellum said.
He said there is a huge gap when it comes to jobs in the building field which often offer stability and good pay.
There is a gap in fields like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. You can have your schooling in these fields paid for and make a six-figure salary going forward, all with no debt like college loans.
“These are well-paying jobs," Kellum added. "Anyone that wants one can have one. [Plumbing] is a trade that will always be in demand because people will always need plumbers” Kellum said.
Kellum said his company will pay people while they learn and will help walk interested parties through the process.
Recently, WCNC’s Bill McGinty profiled jobs that pay well without needing a college degree and plumbers were on that list. Also on the list were air traffic Controllers who can make up to $158,000 a year. IT managers make upwards of $125,000.
The National Association of Homebuilders estimates 114,500 jobs in the trades will be needed by 2028.
The governors of both South Carolina and Montana are ending their states' participation in the pandemic unemployment benefits program which offered federal subsidies on top of state unemployment benefits.