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FALL 2021

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall 2021 / Vol 44 No 4


46 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Jim Truesdell James Truesdell is President of Brauer Supply Company, a distributor of specialty fasteners, insulation, air filtration, and air conditioning with headquarters in St. Louis. Mr. Truesdell is adjunct professor at Saint Louis University and Webster University. An attorney and frequently published writer, he is the author of “Total Quality Management: Reports From the Front Lines”. WORKER SHORTAGE AND SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEMS PLAGUE POST-COVID ECONOMY Businesses cutting back on hours, factories existing on a single shift, service levels suffering, no one in stores to help shoppers or check them out promptly, tourist areas unable to meet summer demands - these things are all happening as companies struggle with finding quality workers (or even any workers) to staff the front lines of our economy. It’s a worker shortage like no one has ever seen. Despite this, there are still large numbers of people unemployed. What gives? Why is there such a mismatch between jobs being offered and the people available to fill them? Will the situation continue? What adjustments to hiring practices should small businesses (and distributors in particular) consider to fill their ranks in these unusual times? In July the monthly jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses related that 46 per cent of small businesses reported job openings that could not be filled, up from a historical average of 22 per cent. The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark, said that solving the worker shortage must be the number one priority facing the country. Business owners and managers have been readily swapping stories of the difficulties they have faced in getting entry level workers, truck drivers, warehouse people and manufacturing line workers. A result of this has been a rash of supply chain disruptions. Goods are not coming off the lines and being shipped readily CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE to outlets because of insufficient people to make it all work. As the pandemic begins to subside, with vaccinations readily available, a growing demand for goods and services has been pent up for some time. The shortages, in turn, have resulted in rising prices as elevated stock market prices, people returning to work, and continued government subsidies to those not working have put a lot of money in circulation chasing the limited supply of goods. This has all resulted in fear of inflation which many of today’s workers and investors have never seen. With so many jobs available, and so many people not currently employed, why isn’t the problem solving itself? Some workers are reluctant to go back to work because they genuinely fear Covid-19. Some parents are dealing with child care needs that are not easy to resolve and have come to a realization that the hectic runaround of day care delivery, pick-up and crisis management is just not worth it for the net salary they earn. Some have just gotten used to the plentiful government benefits and see no reason to hurry back as long as the money is still available. Some feel confident enough in their ability to get a job in this environment that they are holding back and waiting for the dream job they always wanted. Because of the high demand for jobs, some of the hard core unemployed have been brought back into play and are receiving offers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 126


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