How a worker shortage in PA is stalling its recovery, and what jobs are needed most

As COVID-19 restrictions get lifted and Pennsylvania’s economy tries to get back on track, businesses ranging from fast-food restaurants to manufacturing are clamoring to fill job vacancies — and many are saying they are having trouble luring workers.

Labor advocates, though, say businesses are not offering workers enough money in a competitive hiring market still under a pandemic cloud, and there remain obstacles for many lower-wage earners to return to jobs, such as childcare and transportation.

In Beaver County, Gregg Troian said he’s encountering a worker shortage firsthand as president of PGT Trucking, a long-haul operator. Troian said he needs 100 drivers, or about 10% of his fleet, but he struggles to find qualified people even though a new driver can make $70,000 a year.

And, it’s more than just drivers. Troian said he also needs diesel technicians and maintenance staff to keep trucks running, but cannot find enough workers for those jobs, either.

“I just need as many as I can get,” Troian said recently while attending a conference in Arizona. Diesel technicians, he said, can earn $20 or more an hour depending on experience.

Having problems finding workers is not new, Troian said. Plenty of drivers start the job only to realize the days away from family are too much.

The issue, however, has been “modestly exasperated” by the pandemic, he said. Driving a tractor trailer requires a commercial driver’s license, but the schools that train those drivers closed during the pandemic, Troian said.

Ultimately, consumers will see the effect of a driver shortage, warned Troian, who said other trucking companies are having the same problems.

Author: J.D. ProsePublication: York Daily Record