Worker shortages persist as a result of the pandemic


Photo by Isabella Kneeshaw

Atticus Chames, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to damage the U.S. economy as worker shortages and supply chain disruptions persist into the 2021 Christmas season.

According to an article by Insider, the past 6 months alone have shown near-record unemployment rates with 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs just last September. 

This has left many employees having to work overtime, often in areas outside of their usual designations.

“Sometimes I’ll have to do the work for two people since we’re so understaffed,” expressed Tualatin High School senior Samuel Flemmer, who works at a local Panera.

“It wasn’t much different when I was working at Taco Bell, either,” Flemmer continued.

There are many factors which could explain why people are currently quitting their jobs at such a high rate, but the most likely culprit is what is known as “worker burnout.”

“Worker burnout” is a type of work-related stress which involves feelings of reduced accomplishment, mental distance and exhaustion. 

A survey by the employment website Indeed showed that as of 2021, 52 percent of respondents felt burned out in their occupation and 67 percent believe the feeling has worsened over the course of the pandemic. This is a 9 percent increase from Indeed’s pre-COVID survey. 

This lack of available workers has not only affected food services, but school districts across the country as well. These districts lack the necessary number of bus drivers to get students to school and back on time.

It is especially difficult because of the typical bus driver demographic: retired or semi-retired individuals. Due to their age, they are at a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID.

“In total, we typically have 580 drivers around the state of Oregon,” said Brian Shuldberg, regional vice president for Mid-Columbia Bus Co. “We are about 10 to 12 percent short of what we need.” 

As a result, many of the available bus drivers are forced to consolidate and frequently change their routes, and students experience longer delays before they can get back home.

Although it seems like these worker shortages may continue into 2022, a report by Reuters revealed that U.S. employment actually increased more than anticipated during the month of October. The report shows that the economy, while not ideal at the time being, is steadily improving.