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Business & Economy

Central Ohio workers are quitting and reshuffling as employers still struggle to fill openings

Cornerstone Deli owner Hadi Tjiang
Natasha Williams
Cornerstone Deli owner Hadi Tjiang unpacks takeout containers at the restaurant.

The Great Resignation has shifted to the Great Reshuffling leaving many employers scrambling to find help.

Corey Webb owns Ritzy's, a Clintonville restaurant specializing in hamburgers, fries and shakes. He says for now business is good and humming right along. But it hasn't been easy.

“So normally what we would do is we'd put a little A-frame sign out front (that) says 'Now Hiring' and we'd have you know, 15 to 20 people come in and apply, and you know once COVID hit that first summer, I think we got two applications the first like three or four weeks that we had to sign out, “ Webb said.

That forced Webb to change the way he looks for new employees.

“So we had to get a bit more creative about how we're trying to advertise getting more people and so we had to look at things like Facebook and Craigslist and all that stuff, “ he said.

Over at the Cornerstone Deli in Clintonville, owner Hadi Tjiang is singing the same song.

“Before the pandemic I would get like one two applications a day. Now like almost nobody applies, “ said Tjiang.

At times Tjiang wondered if he was going to be able to stay open.

Economist Rea Hederman with the Buckeye Institute said Ohio is continuing to struggle with more job openings than available workers. HNormally an unemployment rate of around 4% should be good news.

“Our labor force is still missing almost 100,000 workers and Natasha what that means is there are 100,000 Ohioans either working or looking for work in the state has compared to pre-pandemic times, “ Hederman said.

Some workers are reevaluating their next move and many have simply left the workforce altogether through retirement, Hederman said.
by opting to

“And Ohio won't be fully recovered until we see some of these all these missing workers really going back in Ohio workers are back in the economy being able to find jobs being able to get raises and being able to move on and get promoted,” he said

Jonathon Blankley continued to work at Cornerstone Deli through the pandemic.

“We stayed open we went to some skeleton hours and a skeleton crew and its been kind of tough but we're kind of through that now, “ Blankley said.

In 2021 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record 47 million people voluntarily left their jobs and new numbers point to as many as 40% who are considering leaving. It's not just restaurants like that are struggling to find workers. There is a nationwide teacher shortage and thousands of positions in healthcare remain open.

Back at Ritzy's Webb is has already taken steps to ensure his employees stick around too.

“It's a competitive world out there and you got to first off, you know, you got to treat your employees with respect. I always say that I'd never ask someone to do something that I wouldn't do myself. And then like somebody else, you also must compensate them for it. So people always talk about minimum wage and I'm like, well, if you get if you pay minimum wage, you're going to get minimum wage employees," Webb said.

Webb also said compensation is important, and if you pay good wages and have a good work environment you should not have to worry about your employees constantly looking for something better.

Business & Economy Labor Shortage
Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.