Where Did All the Applicants Go?



There is no denying that times are tough right now when it comes to finding employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 7.4 million people are currently sitting at unemployment which is higher than pre-COVID levels.

The hourly workforce continues to hurt as it’s main employment sources, retirees and teens ages 16-19 year olds, are becoming more scarce everyday. This gaping hole for restaurants and retailers is making management of customers more difficult, especially with the holidays approaching.

Let’s first tackle why retired people seem to not be returning to their part-time jobs. 3.4 million of those who have left the labor force and appear to have no intention of going back are over the age of 55. There is that little issue of the whole pandemic still going on, which invokes fear in the older generations to be around others as it raises the chances of catching COVID-19.

After a stressful 2020 many of these folks took up early leave from their careers, seeing that they just didn’t see the point in continuing to work if they had enough funds to spend the rest of their lives safely doing what they want. What is the point of going back to a minimum wage job when they could be on a beach sipping a cocktail in Clearwater?

The other huge market that seems to be lost is teenagers. For an age group that is usually ready to pursue a part-time position they don’t seem to be as adamant as they are known to be.

57.9% of teens were working in 1979 which was the peak of adolescent employment in the United States. In 2019 it was measured that that number has significantly plummeted to 35% for those between 16 and 19 years old. As frustrating as this is for those that own hourly waged businesses, there is only one true reason it’s happening.

Working is not their focus right now.

Young people today are pushing to get a good education that will lead them to stronger chances of supportive full-time employment. 15.1 million students were attending high school in 2019. College dropout rates were at an all time low 2 years ago with only 6% a well. The graduation rates are at the highest they have ever been in the county’s history.

Students are putting all their efforts into schooling. The requirements in receiving an education have increased and now include other activities that factor into graduation, such as community service, that take precedence over anything. Completing these tasks well usually leads to college acceptances, going to college then leads to more studying, then that studying leads to graduation and a career. It’s the end goal they want to achieve and a part-time job seems to be more of a distraction to them right now more than anything. 

I’m sure this article is frustrating to read if your restaurant or store has been affected by the labor shortage, but I promise you there is light at the end of the tunnel. Start learning and thinking of new and innovative ways to appeal to job seekers. If you need help, Chattr has multiple blogs on this website and countless social media posts across almost all platforms with tips and tricks. For now though, I’ll leave you with some information that can help you get by at the moment.

The first thing you should focus on is taking care of your employees. They are the people that are still there and supporting your business by providing their time and efforts. If you don’t already, take time to get to know them as people and then professionally build them up from within your company. This not only strengthens them, but also you. Promoting a strong brand culture supports a good reputation which is a great strategy in attracting new workers because they see opportunity when working at your establishment.

The last note I want to leave you off on is to not over-do it. Right now things are tough with hiring but that doesn’t mean that every candidate that applies should be hired. This national problem is going to dwindle down as time moves on and you don’t want to stick yourself with overpaying on employees just because you have too many to take care of. Choosing the right candidates is important in hiring also because every person brought into your business will influence the work culture, and having too many people could really backfire on that. 

If these tips still make you leery and you are afraid that you may be making the wrong hiring decisions, give Chattr a call and schedule a demo. We are here to help you and relieve any stressors that come with hiring because we know that it truly is not an easy process.

Remember that times may be tough right now, but they won’t be tough forever. You can get through anything if you push hard enough to do it.


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