Labor shortage: Where do local businesses go from here?

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — For many local businesses, Monday marks the beginning of another week in a national labor shortage. A simple Internet search will show pages upon pages of job openings.

For the especially hard-hit restaurant industry, one local businessowner says robots could help.

“We have several people that need extra hands out there in the business, we’re short on help,” said Gene Trotta, CEO of ‘Restaurant Conextions,’ a local staffing company. “The robots are definitely a solution to that problem.”

To be clear, right now, we’re not at the stage where bots roam every dining room floor in Rochester.
But Trotta is starting to pitch them — and the says there’s real interest.

The bots can help with tasks like bussing and delivering food – help amid an extended labor shortage at home and across the country, which isn’t limited to restaurants.

An online jobs portal from the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce shows hundreds of openings – a good chunk in the food service industry, but also several in health care and finance.

“We’re still on the forefront of [automation],” said Jarrett Felton, head of Invessent Wealth Management in Rochester, “but it’s very real and it’s happening.”

Felton says there’s been a myriad of factors – like vaccine mandates, overqualified applicants, and COVID itself – which have kept the labor shortage a problem.

Enticing workers, he says, can come from a more enticing package of benefits.

“What are you going to pay for for your employees? Obviously there’s going to be added cost, but as an entrepreneur, we look at: What is the lesser of two evils, either not have help, or have help as valuable employees and assets of a business, but give a little bit to keep?” Felton told News 8.

BLS numbers put the unemployment rate in Rochester steadily above five percent since June – the most recent numbers were published for August 2021.

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