NY business owner says worker shortage an 'emergency' since COVID pandemic hit

NY solar business owner says he’s increasing wages amid labor shortage

Matthew Messer, the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, says he’s still not getting applicants even though he has been increasing wages. 

The owner of a New York solar construction business told "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday that the worker shortage in his industry has become an "emergency" since the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

Matthew Messer, the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, told host Brian Kilmeade that "the single biggest issue for my business right now is hiring." 

So much so, that he said he has to jump in and work out in the field on top of his day-to-day responsibilities to compensate for the shortage.

"As I grow the business, I want to satisfy the demand for solar repairs, which is a really growing business," Messer told Kilmeade. 

"I want to keep my customers happy and that means I need to both meet my deadlines during the day, 9 to 5, and then return their calls from 5 to 8 at night. It's a challenge right now." 

Construction companies will need to hire 430,000 more workers in 2021 than they employed in 2020, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released by Associated Builders and Contractors.

 The trade association also noted, citing estimates from the economic consulting firm Markstein Advisors, that construction spending is likely to reach $1.45 trillion in 2021, an increase of 1.3% from the year before. 

"Under this scenario, employment demand increases by 430,000 this year from actual employment of 7,829,000 in 2020," Associated Builders and Contractors pointed out in the news release. 

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"A higher growth rate scenario could boost the number of additional construction workers needed in 2021 to nearly 1 million."

Construction business owner on worker shortage: ‘Emergency’ since pandemic hit

Matthew Messer, the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, says ‘the single biggest issue for my business right now is hiring.’

Messer told Kilmeade on Tuesday that he has been offering higher wages to try and incentivize workers to join his company. 

Some have argued that the enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus during the pandemic have made it even more difficult for some businesses to recruit employees. 

The federal unemployment insurance benefit is set to expire in early September and provides $300 per week to those unemployed in addition to standard unemployment payments, which vary state by state.

At least 25 states decided in May and June to prematurely cut off the sweetened aid, a move they say will help businesses struggling to hire employees.

Job openings held near a record high in May, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, which noted that the number of job openings held little changed at 9.2 million. 

Openings hit a record high of 9.286 million in April. The job openings rate was unchanged at 6%. 

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"At the entry-level, We’ve had to increase wages that we offer by 40% just to get some applicants in the door," Messer told Kilmeade. 

He explained that he had an entry-level position posted on Indeed.com for over a month advertising a $22-an-hour wage "and it was flat" so he increased the wage to $23-an-hour and it was still "flat." 

"I increased it to 24 and some applicants started to trickle in," Messer continued. 

"But I still have these higher-level positions, folks who have been in the trades for a long time, that I'm looking to fill and despite increasing the offering for those jobs, I'm still not getting applicants."

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FOX Business’ Jonathan Garber contributed to this report. 

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