Getting Chicago workers back in business

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Kevin McGuire

Many businesses are in need of workers following economic conditions brought on by the pandemic. (photo used under Flickr creative commons license https://bit.ly/3cya531)

Every time I travel around the City of Chicago, I see a “Help Wanted” sign. There has been a recent labor shortage around the city, grocery stores, restaurants, and all other types of jobs have had a shortage of workers.

The reasoning behind the labor shortage has to do with multiple things. People are still nervous about Covid, and many jobs are as well. “City of Chicago employees must, as a condition of employment, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 effective October 15, 2021,”  said Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot. “This policy applies to all City employees, personnel of contractors, and vendors who have regular direct contact with, or regularly work close to, City employees and volunteers. It does not apply to visitors.”

This is a big reason jobs are always looking for workers. Also contributing to a lack of workers is the minimum wage. Chicago’s minimum wage is $15 an hour, and some people need more than that to get by while paying for bills, food, and more. But some cons for raising the minimum wage would be inflation. The rise of the minimum wage would raise store expenses and businesses would be forced to take away job positions due to the rise in the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage would help with the poverty rate, but it could cause a huge loss in jobs and it would be a repeated process of help wanted signs over the city of Chicago. Every time the minimum wage has been raised, the unemployment rate has gone up because more money equals fewer workers. Chicago’s unemployment rate is currently 7.50%

Chicago had changed the minimum wage from $10 in 2015 to $15 an hour in 2021. “Chicago, however, isn’t the only city with workers who have gone far too long without proper protection, so it is my hope and expectation that our members of Congress and national corporate partners join our city and work to implement a federal living wage to give workers all around the country the opportunity to lead financially stable lives,” said Lightfoot in an interview regarding the minimum wage raise. The mayor wants to continue this so people won’t be in poverty and can have a balanced income.

A huge shortage in labor has been because of lack of salary, but it is not just about the money; a lot goes into applying for jobs like the flexibility of schedule, the work environment, lack of work benefits, and availability. The main cause has been the lack of work benefits, “The lack of these benefits is affecting employees’ overall work performance, and impacting companies in lost productivity and reduced employee retention,” said Donna Levin one of the co-founders of Care.com and current  Vice President of Public Policy at CSR and Global Workplace Solutions. Work benefits, minimum wage, and much more have been the main causes of the lack of workers. Jobs would have to provide better work benefits, the flexibility of schedule, and more in order to have more jobs having workers.

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