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Here's why industries across Colorado are facing staffing shortages

The economy may be rebounding after the pandemic shutdowns, but the impacts are still being felt.

DENVER — Take a drive through any town in Colorado, and it’s hard not to see a "help wanted" sign in front of a business. It’s a problem that’s impacting nearly every industry, and there isn’t one single reason or solution.

We talk about staffing shortages a lot: at hospitals, restaurants, police departments, schools and even airports

So you’re probably wondering: why are there so many open jobs and so few people wanting to fill them?

To find an answer, we asked three economy and labor experts: Curtis Graves with the Employers Council; Kishore Kulkarni, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at MSU Denver; and Mac Clouse, a Professor of Finance at the University of Denver. 

They all agree on one thing: this isn't normal. 

"I’ve never seen anything like this," Graves said. 

"We have never, ever seen anything like this," Kulkarni said. 

"This is pretty unusual," Clouse said. 

So this isn’t normal, but this past year wasn’t either. 

Here are some reasons we’re seeing so many open jobs, according to Graves, Kulkarni and Clouse. 

Some people are still afraid to go back to work because of COVID. Others don’t want to pay for childcare and would rather stay home. Then there are people who have become accustomed to living off unemployment benefits. Lots of others are asking for more benefits.

"There is a restructuring of the liking of the job and getting of the job," Kulkarni said. "Sooner or later, people are going to start finding suitable jobs."

So what’s the solution? Time will help in the long run, and more perks could make an impact quickly.  

"Some of it may require an increase in wages," Graves said. "There’s not much people wouldn’t do for a massive increase in pay, even if they didn’t like the job. It just may not be economically feasible for the employers."

As much as some people want to work from home, there are some jobs that simply don’t let you do that, like being a waiter, for example.

"People have started rethinking what they do want to do in terms of work and careers," Clouse said. "We’ve got lots of jobs, just not people willing to work."

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