There is no question about it. When it comes to the labor and construction industries, there is a shortage of staff. If you’ve eaten outside your house in the last few months, you probably noticed many restaurants have shortened their hours, closed their doors, or have signs outside saying help wanted. The promotions for hiring new employees are endless, ranging from sign-on bonuses to paid training and flexible schedules. Everyone is talking about it and debating the causes, the outcomes, and, more importantly, how we can fix it. Here at Alliance Landscaping, we are feeling the pinch ourselves. Like most lawn care companies in the Auburn area, we are also looking for good, valuable, hard-working employees.
So, what are the reasons behind the staff shortage in the labor industry? How is it affecting the businesses, the clients, and is there any reprieve in sight? Walk with us as we take a more in-depth look at these questions below.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million people across America quit their jobs back in April of this year. In June, 9.5 million people were unemployed. At the same time, there were 9.2 million job openings, a record high. In July, 49% of small business owners had job openings they could not fill. While some industries have been hit harder than others, there is no doubt the service and construction industries are two of the services feeling the most impact. Before this occurred, landscaping and construction companies saw a drastic decline in projects due to much of the population pulling back on spending. And while the industry bounced back this past spring, staff shortages are causing problems such as project delays, a limit on the number of projects a company can take on, and stress on the current employees handling extra work.
The staff shortages are not just hard on the other employees who have to pick up the slack, but it is also hard on the business and customers. Many lawn care companies have had to cut back their hours and the amount of work they can provide. Often, staff are overworked, tired and inadvertently perform less quality work. Some lawn care companies are simply cutting out some of their more time-consuming services.
As for the customer, they often have to wait longer for a service to be performed, or they may have to call around to several different places before finding a responsive company. The wait time is longer. And in many instances, customers receive no callbacks at all. This makes for frustrated, angry consumers.
But why is this occurring? Is there a shortage of people? Are people suddenly being replaced by robots as predicted decades ago? No. There are still thousands of unemployed Americans, but the reasons why quite vary. One reason that takes a lot of the public’s blame is the recent increase in unemployment benefits. During the height of COVID, approximately 7.5 million people received benefits that otherwise normally wouldn’t, and in many states, New Hampshire included, they received an extra $300 weekly bonus. This bonus has since expired. While this could be why many folks haven’t returned to work, it’s definitely not the only factor. A study conducted by JP Morgan Chase that included 26 states who cut off benefits early this year did not produce any stronger growth than in those states who continued to offer the additional $300 benefit.
Other reasons listed include:
COVID Changed Everything
COVID changed the way we live in America, and that includes our views on jobs. Many folks who once worked in the labor industry suddenly found themselves at home with nothing to do and started to think about what they really wanted out of life. And for many, that meant a change in careers or a different job. Many people retired, and some started their own businesses. Others simply want more money than many of New Hampshire’s small businesses can afford. A survey performed by the recruiting website Indeed found that 20% of unemployed people job hunting in July stated their lack of urgency in finding a job was due to having an employed spouse or a financial cushion. Twenty-three percent blamed COVID-19 fears, and 18% mentioned lack of child or other care-related duties.
A chart developed by USA today, taken from a survey done in June/July produced the following results:
|Reasons Cited||June Percentage||July Percentage|
|Unemployment Insurance Payments||10%||10%|
|Care Responsibilities such as child care||18%||17%|
|Had a financial cushion||20%||21%|
Lack of H-2B Visas
Another reason for the lack of staff includes the shortage of H-2B visas. A significant portion of the labor workforce, including those who work in the lawn care industry, comprises immigrants, laborers, and seasonal workers. Specialized visas, such as the H-2B Visa, allow unskilled workers to enter the country and join the workforce. In 2020 an executive order was passed that limited the number of H-2B visas by half, capping the amount allowed to enter the country per year to 66,000. This put a huge damper on businesses across New Hampshire that rely on the help of seasonal and temporary staff throughout the busy season. Joe Dorion, director of workforce development for the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, states, “Certainly, a reduction in J-1 and H2-B visas are putting a strain on a lot of businesses. These visa programs are among the most commonly used in New Hampshire, Dorion added, with the J-1 available to people participating in work- and study-based exchange programs and the H-2B offered to temporary, non-agricultural workers.
Though the current administration approved an additional 22,000 vias this year, the COVID pandemic has only slowed the process of securing these visas. Many consulates and embassies were closed, halting or slowing the process. When they are open, they are completely backed up, and the whole process is delayed.
So what exactly is the industry and its customers to do? The good news is, experts expect another 2.2 million employees to find work by year’s end. At Alliance Landscaping, while we continue to seek out qualified staff, we assure you, our clients come first. We will also take the extra steps and care needed to ensure your landscape is properly maintained and cared for. If there is a project we can’t handle, rest assured you will always have our valued honesty.
Currently, we are offering a $1,000 signing bonus! We offer amazing benefits, including paid holidays, company outings, health coverage, dental, vision, life insurance, and a 6% matching 401K. If you or someone you know is interested in a career with a small family-owned business with a fun culture, visit our careers page and fill out an application now!
Alliance Landscaping Is Your Premier Lawn Care Company Throughout the Entire New Hampshire Area
Don’t forget, as the premier lawn care company in Auburn, New Hampshire, we offer a comprehensive lawn care program, aeration and overseeding, professional irrigation services, pest control, tick control, and so much more for both residential and commercial customers. Learn more by visiting our website, sending us a message online, or contacting us now at 1-603-622-1111.