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Let’s get back to work — and keep tipping big

Our economy appears poised to roar back from the shutdowns and slowdowns caused by the coronavirus and government restrictions meant to prevent the virus’ spread.

However, a very serious lack of workers to run that economy could hold us back.

From manufacturers to retailers to the hotel and restaurant industry, businesses up and down the economic ladder have struggled for weeks to recruit workers to fill the positions they need to meet the growing demand for their products or services as life slowly returns to normal (The News is no exception — we have multiple part-time positions open in our mailroom; apply at The News, 130 Park Place in downtown Alpena).

In response, employers have dug into their coffers to offer more pay, signing bonuses, recruitment bonuses, and other incentives to encourage folks to come back to work. Still, they struggle.

Some blame the government’s generosity during the pandemic, saying extended and enhanced unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and upcoming checks for child care discourage folks from seeking a paycheck.

Others say the turmoil of the pandemic turned workers away from the lowest-paying sectors of our economy. To some, waiting tables just no longer paid enough to make up for the usual abuse and weird hours of the job, which during the pandemic also included trying to police mask-wearing, collect contact tracing information, perform extra cleaning, and extra abuse from customers on edge.

Whatever the cause, it’s time our government policy shift to incentivize work over help for those without work. Some government officials want to pay people to go back on the job, a sort of government-sponsored signing bonus. Michigan will once again require those receiving unemployment benefits to search for a job, a mandate suspended during the pandemic.

We have to do our part, too. We need to keep tipping our servers well, and otherwise be extra supportive of waitstaff, retail clerks, and others.

We have to make it worthwhile for folks to get back on the job, because we need them to get things going again.

— Alpena News

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