Some things I've noticed missing from the "worker shortage" stories:

1. In SD, in particular, our unemployment rates are very low meaning people ARE working (or at least no longer collecting unemployment), they're just not returning to pre-COVID service jobs.
2. Very few questions on pay & benefits. If we follow the line that people aren't returning to service jobs due to unemployment... Why aren't employers offering living wages that rival it? Unemployment should be the bare minimum to survive, yet many employers are paying far less.
3. In addition, those jobs often do not offer consistent hours and benefits. The pandemic highlighted the importance of access to healthcare and benefits such as sick time and PTO. Are these restaurants offering that? It wouldn't make a very attractive offer if they weren't.
4. Restaurants and retail were HARD hit industries in the pandemic. Many ppl were either let go with no help, or risked their lives at work each day.
Studies found line cooks to have the highest risk of dying due to COVID. It's no wonder many aren't returning to those jobs.
5. As journalists it is our responsibility to really dig into the why behind the data. I've read so many stories on the labor shortage, but very few that talked to the employees (rather than employers) on why they aren't returning. We can't leave out the other half of that story.
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