The labor shortage continues to be a concern for many businesses. The Augusta metro area employment level is still 4,000 persons below pre-pandemic levels and the labor force is almost 8,000 people fewer. A new survey of businesses conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates how firms are trying to attract more applicants. The most popular strategies were increased advertising and higher starting pay.
Nationwide, 5.4% of establishments have increased advertising, with 11.8% of accommodation and food services and 9.7% of health care and social assistance increasing advertising. The use of recruiters and talent agencies has increased by 2.4%, with 4.9% of manufacturing firms using this strategy.
Other firms have improved the pay and working conditions. The survey showed 7.3% of firms have increased starting pay. However, only 1.9% of establishments have used bonuses but 4.9% of health care and social assistance firms have tried a bonus. Only 1% of firms offered more hours, but 4.3% of accommodation and food services have tried this strategy. While 1.2% of all firms offered better benefits, the percentage for accommodations and health care were again higher than the average.
After all the teleworking we did during the Covid-19 pandemic, firms may have reverted to previous business models of on-site workers. Only 0.7% of firms expanded teleworking or remote working. Teleworking is more difficult in healthcare and accommodation and food services, so those industries that have utilized teleworking at a higher rate than average include information, professional and business services, and educational services. Of the firms surveyed, 1.3% reduced their qualifications such as education or experience to attract more workers, with 2.7% of manufacturing firms trying this approach. Of all the firms, 11.1% used at least one of the above strategies.
Accommodation, food service, health care, and social assistance regularly top the list for different strategies suggesting these industries are the ones most struggling to attract workers.