Reopening: Unpacking the Labor Shortage

Reopening: Unpacking the Labor Shortage
Lauren Haggarty / Local First - 06/24/2021
Earlier this month, Durango’s local restaurant owners convened at Zia North Main to
address the largest barrier for their post-pandemic reopening: the labor shortage. Out of the
18 service businesses in attendance, over 85 open positions were identified. Exemplifying
just one small slice of the service industry in La Plata County where hundreds of open
positions remain waiting to be filled.
 
As vaccination rates increase, our local businesses have been eager to reopen and return to
some semblance of normalcy. However, many are experiencing record-low application rates
for their open positions despite increased incentives. So as we gear up for our tourist-driven
summer months, many local businesses have been forced to reopen with reduced hours and
staff capacity.
 
While this is an obstacle being faced across all local industries, the inability for our service
businesses to sustain a full staffload has drastic implications for Durango - especially as
a community with the highest restaurants per capita in the nation (the last count was 1
restaurant for every 99 residents).
 
“In order for our community to effectively adapt to the labor shortage, we must first
understand its complexities,” says Emily Bell, Managing Director of Local First. “While we
have begun to see fingers pointed at those utilizing the expanded unemployment benefits
rather than returning to work, the core of the issue remains far more intricate.”
Local First partnered with In The Weeds and Good Business Colorado’s Resilient Restaurants
to host the initial ReHire roundtable workshop with local restaurants. To learn more
about the labor shortage and the outcomes of the discussion, visit local-first.
 

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