Worker shortage continues; businesses search for answers

Across the Quad Cities and beyond, more workers are needed and many businesses still are looking for solutions to attract and keep employees.

The worker shortage problem is so dire that Andy Sokolovich, the new interim president of the Clinton Regional Development Corporation (CRDC), called it the top problem facing Clinton, Iowa, businesses this new year.

“If you are out looking for work and tell me you can’t find a job, I’m going to call you a liar,” Mr. Sokolovich recently told the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal.

The CRDC leader added that one of his priorities for the new year will be helping companies find creative ways to attract people to those jobs. Sometimes, that will take companies offering top benefits and bonuses. But it also might take the community doing a better job of promoting the quality of life Clinton has to offer.

“We have to be less humble and more braggy about Clinton,” Mr. Sokolovich added.

Two upcoming events planned in Davenport also will focus on the labor shortage. They are:

  • The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce will present a Talent Business Forum on Thursday, Jan. 20, at the Rhythm City Casino Resort. The forum, which begins at 7:30 a.m., will include keynote speaker Jim Morgan speaking on the labor shortage issue. For more information or to register, contact Terri Smith at (563) 823-2694 or [email protected].
  • The event “STEP Forward: Where Do We Go From Here?” will be 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Hotel Blackhawk. The free forum, presented by The Manufacturing Institute and Arconic Foundation, will focus will be on recruiting and retaining women in the Quad Cities manufacturing industry. It will include a panel discussion. More information: visit

Part of the labor shortage problem can be found in the millions of people leaving their jobs in an era some economists are calling “The Great Resignation.” In November, 4.5 million Americans – or about 3% of the total workforce – quit their jobs. This includes about 1 million people in the restaurant and hotel industry, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It is no wonder that workers are exiting the leisure and hospitality industry en masse,” Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and president of advocacy group One Fair Wage, said in a statement. “The last two years of this horrendous pandemic have been more than a hard time for restaurant and hospitality workers – especially tipped workers who have been struggling with a subminimum wage as low as $2.13 an hour federally.” 

The labor situation also is posing a challenge for small businesses. A monthly jobs report from a small business advocacy group – National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – shows that a record number of business owners are increasing compensation and still are unable to fill job openings.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s governor wants to see changes made to the unemployment system to spur more people into the workforce.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 10, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) is launching its new Re-employment Case Management Program. Under this program, in order to receive unemployment benefits, Iowans will have to take part in four job search or re-employment activities each week. This is double the previous requirement.

“The unemployment code was written a long, long, long time ago when we were in a much different position,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said during an Iowa Capitol Press Association forum, “and today we need to incentivize work, not pay people to stay home.”

“We have more job openings than we have people on unemployment,” Gov. Reynolds said.

The 2022 Iowa Legislature session also begins today. The governor will deliver her annual Condition of the State Address at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11. It can be watched on the Governor’s Facebook Page

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