Lawmakers In Harrisburg Believe There is No Labor Shortage

KDKA's Nicole Ford has more on businesses searching to hire employees.

Video Transcript

- The lack of workers for businesses is a growing issue across the region, but some leaders in Harrisburg believe this is not a true labor shortage, rather, that people are just holding out waiting to be paid more. Nicole Ford is live now with why some businesses say that is not true. Nicole.

NICOLE FORD: Stacy, the state says the cost of everyday life has gone up, but wages have not. The Acting Secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry for the state says that post-pandemic, workers are looking for jobs that they can grow into. The biggest hit is on the hospitality industry, which is struggling to find staff. And the state says the solution is just pay them more.

During lunch on a Tuesday, it's a constant revolving door.

NICOLE MCCARTY: Things are getting much better. I think that since people have been getting vaccinated, people are feeling a lot more comfortable coming out.

NICOLE FORD: But with that boost in business--

NICOLE MCCARTY: We've just been working six days a week, as much as we possibly can, so trying to hire people, it's been really, really hard. No-- I have no applications, even, to hire anybody.

NICOLE FORD: There's not much they can do without the staff. And it's not just the restaurant industry begging for help.

WILLIAM CIAFFONI: I'm looking for 25 to 30 people right now that I could put to work today, and I just can't get anybody through the door.

NICOLE FORD: A labor shortage is what businesses are calling it, but state leaders disagree.

JENNIFER BERRIER: It's a sign of poor job quality and low wages, and it's why we need to ensure that every job is paying decent wages and that every worker has opportunity to grow and succeed.

NICOLE FORD: Various lawmakers continue to push to increase minimum wage and benefits to get more workers back on the job. William Ciaffoni says he's already done that for his construction flagging company.

WILLIAM CIAFFONI: We give sign on bonuses. We've upped our wage 30%. We've put a pension plan into place. We're a true pension, not just a 401(k). We also offer 401(k) on top of that. We offer medical benefits. It's just it doesn't seem to be enough to get people through the door.

NICOLE FORD: Ciaffoni tells me he can't offer any more. Meanwhile, back in Napoli's restaurant in Bridgeville, they say raising wages any higher than they already are could be the end to the family-owned business.

NICOLE MCCARTY: We would have to raise our prices significantly just to stay open, just to pay our employees. And I don't want to do that to the community. You know, we are not a high, an upscale restaurant. We're a family restaurant.

NICOLE FORD: It's not just these two businesses that are facing this same issue. Most restaurants we talked to say they can't get workers in the door, either. And starting Monday, that capacity limit goes back up to 100%. And many of them tell me they just don't have the staff work, but they're going to do what they can to make it work. Reporting live in Carnegie tonight, Nicole Ford, KDKA News.