LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A little over a year ago, business owners in Louisville and across the country were laying off employees. Now, they're struggling to get people back.
"That was the beginning of what got us in the problem we're facing now," said Olivia Griffin. She owns a Limbo bar, Riot Café, and Mysterious Rack in downtown Louisville.
With nice weather and accusable vaccines, she said, "everyone needs about double the staff they needed before."
The hospitality industry isn't alone.
KentuckianaWorks Executive Director Michael Gritton said, "every employer that we're hearing from is looking for people."
The workforce development leader said there are 20,000 fewer people looking for jobs than there were a year ago.
"People have this idea, 'Oh, that must mean that they're all getting unemployment and that's why they're not working,'" said Gritton.
As we've reported in the past, some employers have said former workers tell them they're getting more money from unemployment than by working some jobs.
Now, it's not that simple. Census data shows the main reasons Kentuckians are not working are sickness or disability and childcare.
Then, there are businesses like MP Global packaging, looking to hire over 50 employees by the end of the year, and Kentucky Curb Company, looking to hire hundreds in 2022.
Gritton said a return to normalcy, over time, will help those searches.
Just recently, Olivia Griffin hired nine new people. She said it was the result of listening to concerns those employees had, like pay and mental health concerns. She said, "hopefully my staff will feel like I'm addressing those things, you will attract high-quality people who want to work for you because you have more ethical business practices. "
She also noted that local governments could do more to help locally-owned businesses like hers by listening fees.
Without knowing what the future holds, she said she'll listen to her employees and work to keep them.