INDIANAPOLIS — Whether you're in Indianapolis, Bloomington, or Muncie, many businesses across central Indiana are experiencing the same thing happening across the country: a worker shortage.
Despite business owners bemoaning increased unemployment as the reason they can't find workers, economists point to a variety of reasons.
"Whether it's dining or hospitality, all these sorts of industries had huge layoffs and now, everyone at once is trying to hire them back," Kyle Anderson, an Indiana University Kelley School of Business economist, said. "A lot of people who were working in this industries are doing something else. They've gone back to school, working somewhere else, there's just not that ready supply of people to come back and apply for these jobs."
Anderson also added that it's a job-seekers market right now. He said that means employers are going to have to offer better benefits: higher wages, better schedules, more hours. The owner of Amberson Coffee and Grocer, a Fletcher Place business, has figured this out.
"We definitely wanted to be a place that was different, that provided them with some sense of security," Owner, Hugo Cano said.
Cano opened Amberson Coffee in June 2020. He saw the havoc the pandemic was wreaking on the service industry, people losing their jobs with no idea when they'd work again. He didn't want that for his employees. He set up his business a little different than most coffee shops in hopes of supporting his workers. They don't accept tips. It's something they prominently display for customers.
"People have been very supportive and they don't mind the slightly higher prices for more genuine service because tips aren't included," Cano said. He starts employees out at what he says is a livable wage. "We actually start baristas with experience at $14 an hour but that is the starting wage. Our goal is to go anywhere from $18 to $20."
Word has gotten around about the benefits of working at Amberson. Cano said he gets job inquiries every day. He explained why it's important to him that he pays his employees a certain amount.
"It's something you could very well live off of. Pay rent, buy food and be able to go out. Also, not overexert yourself at work. People seem to be very happy with it." He thinks businesses struggling to hire more people are going to have to adapt to this changing job market.
"Just like it happened during COVID, the businesses that were able to adapt to the circumstances were the ones that were able to survive."