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Greene County suffering a worker shortage

Aug 27, 2021 6:00 am

Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup Greene County businesses cannot find enough help. “It’s not just Greene County, it’s everywhere,” said Jeff Friedman, president and executive director of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce. According to statistics from the Department of Labor, there are roughly 1,100 people unemployed in the county. But even if they each took a job, Friedman said it still would not be enough to solve the local labor shortage. He estimates there are currently approximately 2,500 jobs open in the county. “To say the problem is that people are sitting home collecting unemployment is not accurate,” Friedman said. He and Chris Nardone, director of Columbia-Greene Workforce Career Center. said that while they can see why some people would blame the extra unemployment for the situation, there are other factors at play. “Our unemployment rates have been on the low side throughout the pandemic, so it doesn't seem like there is a huge number of people that are benefiting from the additional unemployment funds in Columbia and Greene counties, and certainly not enough to fill the number of available positions,” Nardone said. In Greene County, the unemployment rate is currently at 5.6 percent. Friedman said there were workforce issues even before COVID hit and the federal government began supplementing unemployment benefits. “This isn’t a new problem, it’s just gotten worse,” Friedman said. The issue is further compounded by an aging population, out-migration of young people, limited affordable housing, a lack of transportation, and limited access to affordable childcare, Nardone said. U.S. Census data shows that Greene County's population increased slightly between 2019 and 2020, and there was a 17 percent increase in the number of new business openings during the pandemic, a trend that will not be sustainable if the labor shortage continues.Read the full story at porcupinesoup [dot] com