By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Employers from downtown Brickell to the Homestead vegetable fields are having difficulty finding workers. FIU’s Dr. Marc Weinstein says it’s time employers “up their game and be better employers.”

Sea ports are jammed. There are not enough truck drivers to clear containers. Restaurants and nightspots are desperate to hire workers. The food supply chain has slowed due to a shortage of warehouse workers, clerks, and delivery truck drivers.

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Weinstein, FIU’s director of human resource management, told CBSMiami, “I would say employers can anticipate tight labor markets, labor shortage for the foreseeable future.”

COVID shutdowns and closures forced many in the labor force to reassess, women once in the service industry for example. “The marginal benefit of going to work and paying for childcare is probably too small for women at the lower end of the labor market,” says Weinstein. They are opting to stay home putting a large hole in the available labor pool.

Some independent truck drivers are finding it is better to park their rigs than pay for gas and deal with clogged ports which cut down the number of revenue-producing daily round trips.

There are white-collar professionals who would rather work at home and has been told to return to the office.

They are staying home. Folks are moving on.

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“At this point with the tight labor market there is a great opportunity for individuals to enter into jobs for which they are prepared but not possessing the previous experience,” says Weinstein.

Restaurant operators have told CBSMiami that this is the perfect time to get into the foodservice industry because advancement can come quickly.

As jobs open up, individuals who may have worked in agriculture previously are now getting opportunities elsewhere in the economy, branching out into lawn care or landscaping many opening their own businesses.

Also, impacting the labor pool are older workers retiring taking advantage of a healthy stock market, a slow down in immigration, workers who normally filled skilled and unskilled jobs absent, employers finding large immigrant labor pools are not there anymore.

In Miami-Dade, Weinstein says, “Jobs grew about 19.6% the labor force only grew by 9%.”

Weinstein says with the challenging worker market employers need to up their game, focus on being better employers, if they are going to retain or recruit quality employees.

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“What we will see moving forward are companies competing for employees not just on the basis of wages but based on workplace conditions, flexibility including the ability to work from home.”