The US Department of Labor reported Friday that nearly 200,000 jobs were open in September but that the unemployment rate has dropped. Many industries say they can’t fill job vacancies, leaving some beloved companies in trouble, or worse, shutting down. There are recruitment posters everywhere. “It’s unbelievable. We’ve never seen this happen ever,” General Manager for Slyman’s Downtown, Sam Slyman, said.
The Cleveland staple has been no exception to the ripple effects the COVID-19 jobs pandemic has had on the economy. “I don’t know if the virus is affecting people as in, they’re scared and they don’t want to go back to work or if they just don’t want to work,” Slyman told 3News.
When a customer picks up their Slyman’s food, one of the first things they see is a “now hiring all positions” sign. Slyman said the sign had been posted for three weeks and that not a single person had come to request an application.
The Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate recently dropped from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent despite 194,000 jobs being posted in September and attributed the decrease in unemployment to some people finding jobs but that others are not looking for work. “There is work, but nobody wants to go back to work,” Slyman said.
Slyman said they’ve cut back on days the shop is open, increased pay as an incentive to future employees, but can’t afford to even operate with an open dining room. “We are at like seven or eight employees. We need double of that to go back to normal,” Slyman told 3News. “We need more staff in the back, more staff in the front of the house.”
Labor shortages have forced other beloved Cleveland staples to close, such as the location of The Winking Lizard Huron and independently owned Slyman’s Tavern. The shortage has affected many industries, including one vital to Northeast Ohio’s winter: snowplow drivers. The city of Cleveland and the Ohio Department of Transportation jobs sounded the alarm early about a lack of seasonal snowplow drivers. “We are experiencing, you know, a hardship trying to find folks that have the licenses that can come and do the work that we need them to do,” said Amanda McFarland with the Ohio Department of Transportation. “Snow and ice don’t just happen from 9 to 5.”