LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A drive down any major street in Kentucky will tell you there isn’t exactly a shortage of jobs, or a shortage of incentives to bring people in.
“Employers are realizing they have to do more,” said Jason Bailey, executive director of the liberal-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
What You Need To Know
- As employers struggle to fill open positions, more and more are offering incentives to new hires
- Some restaurants are offering sign-on bonuses while others are offering referral bonuses
- Experts say job growth slowed last month because many people need more money than a lot of the jobs are willing to pay
- Conservative lawmakers have pushed to end extra unemployment benefits that were created because of the pandemic
On Shelbyville Road in Louisville, the marquee sign belonging to Frisch’s Big Boy says the company will pay a $250 signing bonus for new hires. The owners of Drake’s, a bar and restaurant a short drive down the road in the St. Matthews neighborhood, are offering a $100 bonus if you encourage a friend to apply for a job as well.
Despite all the help wanted signs, job growth slowed significantly last month. Bailey said it’s because many people simply need more money than a lot of the jobs are willing to pay.
“They’re going to have to do what they need to do to get workers that they need, if they truly need them, and that involves making sure that it’s a competitive wage,” Bailey said. “And so many of them don’t offer a competitive wage.”
And many businesses are offering more, leading to a rise in total compensation, with others announcing plans for expanded benefits in the future.
McDonald’s recently announced plans to increases wages by 10 percent over the next few months, hoping to get the average pay up to $15 an hour by 2024. Chipotle plans to increase its wages to an average of $15 an hour by the end of June.
Amazon announced plans to hire 75,000 people in the U.S. and Canada, including some in Kentucky, with an average wage of $17 per hour and additional signing bonuses.
Bailey expects the labor shortage to be short-lived.
“I think what we’re seeing is a short-term bottleneck. This is an economy that’s being reawakened,” Bailey said. “The stimulus measures have put money in people’s pockets. The vaccinations are increasing people’s confidence, and that’s making for some robust growth. This is a nice problem to have.”
Conservative lawmakers have pushed to end extra unemployment benefits that were created because of the pandemic.
“It sounds like you’re kind-hearted: ‘I want to help people, let’s give them more unemployment,’” Sen. Rand Paul said at a restaurant in Harrodsburg last week. “But when you do, what you do is encourage more people to stay unemployed.”
Bailey said a more effective policy would be more money for child care, something many people lost during the pandemic.
“People lost their jobs and they weren’t paying for childcare anymore, so we had more child care centers that closed their doors and aren’t able to reopen,” Bailey said.
But above all else, if businesses pay more, more people will apply.