LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Businesses have struggled to find workers all throughout the pandemic, and that doesn’t seem to be changing now.
Many people thought extra unemployment money was keeping people at home, but that funding has stopped and businesses aren’t seeing much of a difference.
Jubilee Jobs in Lexington connects people who have barriers to employment, with employers. The pandemic created some additional challenges for them, but they expected to get back to work over the summer.
“The individuals we’re trying to help that we thought would be coming back into the workforce from COVID, it just has not happened,” said Bruce Manor with Jubilee Jobs.
Manor said that was clear earlier this year when they held a job fair.
“Typically at the job fair we would see 150 to 200 people. This year when we did the job fair, we had 20,” Manor said.
Manor said one positive from all of this is how much easier it’s been for people who need a second chance to find quality employment.
“It’s a proven fact that if somebody coming out of prison can get stabilized, can get a job, their chances of going back to prison drop dramatically,” Manor said.
He said most of the people they’re seeing now are getting out of prison or have lost jobs through other means. Almost none of them are coming off unemployment, even though that federal unemployment extension ended weeks ago.
“I couldn’t venture a guess as to why they’re not coming back into the workforce, but we are definitely not seeing that,” Manor said.
A study from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said around 90,000 workers would have to re-enter the job market to get to pre-pandemic numbers.
They listed causes such as a lack of childcare and an increase in retirements from baby boomers as causes. They also believe the pandemic is still having an effect.
“I think some are still concerned that what if there is an exposure and I have to quarantine? What if there’s some new rules put in place or the employer put a new role in place?” said Kate Shanks with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s going to have to be multifaceted. There’s not going to be one magic bullet to fix all of this,” Manor said.
Both Manor and the chamber said making it easier for immigrants to work could help.