OPINION: What’s Causing the Worker Shortage?


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Madison Heustess, Media Editor

“Help needed!” “Hiring now!” “Sorry if we’re slow, no one wants to work :)”

These are all signs featured outside of establishments that pay minimum wage — mostly food service jobs. They all seem to be slow in service due to the lack of employees. So what is causing this shortage?

Most people suspect it was due to the higher unemployment checks from the pandemic, but the higher checks stopped months ago and the shortage is still an issue. Others think that people are just not applying to these jobs, but I’ve spoken to several students who have applied to jobs and continue to not get callbacks.

“I’ve applied to 7 jobs and I’m not getting any interviews or callbacks,” said an Agua Fria Junior, “and they still have their hire signs up.”

Clearly people are applying so why are the businesses still short staffed? I was able to interview a McDonald’s Hiring Manager who would like to remain anonymous.

“We have had a lot of new hires, but they’re mostly teenagers,” they said. “And the second something happens that they don’t like, they quit.” 

So are they not hiring these younger applicants due to the fear of them quitting? 

“We’re in need of workers, but it’s a constant cycle of new hires, quits, and then starting over again,” the hiring manager said.

This seems to be a common phenomenon amongst most places with younger hires that are Gen Z. It has actually become a trend on TikTok to share these Gen-Z quitting stories. In most of them, it seems they had quite the reason to do it.

Some of the videos I’ve encountered complain about how managers are expecting their high school students to come in during school hours. They get called in during the day and if they don’t come, they’re threatened with, “You need to be committed to this job and if you can’t be, you’re fired.”

In other instances, it’s blatant horrible treatment toward the younger workers. The older managers take advantage of their authority and have made workers do tasks they weren’t trained to do, spoken to them awfully, and threatened to take their jobs.

“I’ve had to stay late because kitchen workers were too lazy to take out trash, sweep, mop and clean dishes,” Rhianna Verhoeven (AFHS Senior) said. “Anything someone else wouldn’t do became my responsibility.”

“I’ve also seen my fellow employees get yelled at for not coming in while they’re at school,” she added.

It’s insane to think a high schooler can just drop what they’re doing, getting a required education, to go work a minimum wage job. Also, what do you expect when you treat a person poorly just because they’re a young adult?

This generation does not have the patience to put up with any mistreatment from anyone, let alone their manager at Taco Bell. Gen-Z has their priorities and would prefer to focus on school without the stress of a job that they’re constantly being threatened over. 

Besides Gen-Z, some older workers are doing the same in other fields. “Striketober,” a labor strike that lasted all throughout the month of October, has hit the nation.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A big influence of this was the Covid-19 pandemic. Many workers were still required to work because they were labeled as “essential.” There is no doubt that they are, but most of these “essential jobs” have low pay that doesn’t amount to the importance of the worker.

Now that the stigma of the pandemic has decreased, these workers are protesting their working conditions and pay. If they are deemed “essential,” then why are they not being treated as such?

Just a few weeks ago, I had to go pick up my younger sister, Abby, who usually rides the bus home. The school had called and expressed that they “have had trouble finding drivers to take the kids, this is the first time her (my sister’s) bus hasn’t shown up.”

When I spoke to Abby, she said only one bus showed up to the school that day and all of the other bus-riding kids had to wait at the school for their parents to get them. The majority of the district’s bus drivers were on strike wanting better pay.

This shows that it’s not only younger generations doing this, but the working class realizing how important their jobs are to society. Without them, we can’t do day-to-day things. 

From Gen-Z not putting up with the mistreatment from their managers to the local bus driver realizing their job’s worth, the country is in the middle of a labor movement that won’t end until workers are treated and paid fairly.