Labor shortages continue to impact ODOT, other industries

DAYTON — Ohio has a record number of total jobs available with nearly 270,000 jobs open and available, according to Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.

The abundance of openings have led to labor shortages that have hit the restaurant industry and others like the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Mandi Dillon, ODOT Public Information Officer, told News Center 7′s John Bedell that ODOT is looking to higher seasonal workers, like snow plow drivers.

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“As we head into those winter months, we are doing everything we can to kind of gear up to make sure that we are ready,” Dillon said.

The current labor shortage has affected ODOT’s ability to hire enough drivers. In some parts of the state, ODOT said seasonal job applications are down as much as 50 percent to normal.

“[We’re] just trying to fill those positions so that we have enough drivers out on the road ways when the snow hits,” Dillon said.

A local economist told News Center 7 that one factor making the working shortage worse was the that the pandemic has led to large numbers of Baby Boomers deciding to retire.

“We’re missing about 4.3 million people if we had just the same labor force participation we had prior to COVID happening,” Jeff Haymond, economics professor at Cedarville University.

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Additionally, Haymond said there has also been a drop-off of low-wage jobs not bringing people back into the job market.

The coronavirus pandemic has also had an effect on childcare options.

The Greater Dayton YMCA plays a big role in childcare in the Miami Valley and the agency’s Executive Director of Childcare Services, Vickie Dannals, said they experienced a shortage prior to the pandemic. Dannals said the pandemic made if even harder to find staff.

“We receive calls every single day from folks looking for childcare, but with the shortage of staff, what we’ve had to do is create wait lists,” Dannals said.