Keyser feeling effects of work realities, hiring challenges during pandemic

Barbara High
Mineral Daily News-Tribune

KEYSER — Whether it's because employers are not paying enough, workers have options not to work or parents can't find childcare in a pandemic — there has been a growing labor shortage in West Virginia.

COVID hospitalization, illness and recovery itself has taken a toll on employee availability in every corner of the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April, there was an unprecedented 9.3 million job openings in the U.S. In June, 9.5 million people were still out of work and seeking employment.

West Virginia had an unemployment rate of 6.2% in February 2021, but that rate has continued to decrease over the last six months, coming in at 5% in July.

If that trend continues, West Virginia may see some relief in the labor shortage and the wait lines will get shorter for consumers at retail businesses.

More:FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: What I learned from the '95 flood

More:Piedmont to honor Hometown Heroes

Help Wanted signs are dotted around Mineral County these days.

Retail, food industry and even production jobs seem to be hit. Every type of business in the area seems to be looking for employees willing and able to work or to work for the wage being offered.

Jeremy Gardner, owner of Fat Bottom Grille, is trying to open up his new brick-and-mortar store location, and says he is looking to hire.

He is offering $11 an hour but says he could pay more for someone with experience.

“These people are used to struggling in our area and then they finally get a chance to not struggle and still be safe home with their families," he said. "I can’t blame them for wanting that."

More:The numbers: Here's how many Mineral County students have COVID

Denny’s in Keyser is also looking to hire employees for all positions, as is Keyser's Fox's Pizza Den.

Fox’s has been feeling the struggle of being short-staffed, according to Kristina Mason, a manager for the location.

If you are a worker trying to navigate employment and hiring in this COVID era, and willing to share your story, contact newsroom@newstribune.info. We plan to cover the labor situation in Keyser with ongoing stories this season.