Plenty of jobs, not enough workers

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 5:46 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There are thousands of jobs available in Jefferson County but not enough people to fill all of them. It’s causing some business owners to look to the future and adapt to a problem that local leaders say they are trying to tackle.

According to The WorkPlace Executive Director Cheryl Mayforth, there are 3,000 jobs across the county waiting to be filled, but the pool of those who can apply just doesn’t meet the need.

“It’s a quality of life issue. Housing is really a barrier in our area. It’s very expensive and so wages are not in line with housing costs,” she said.

Mayforth says it’s one factor that has caused a 10 percent workforce decrease over the last 10 years.

Another reason is the Baby Boomer generation stepping into retirement.

“They lived to work and what we are finding - our Millennials and Gen Zs - is they want to work to live,” said Mayforth.

One Watertown restaurant, Craft 836 Canteen, has found its “fast casual” approach has cut down on staffing needs.

Owner Mike Sboro says they don’t use traditional wait staff. Customers order at a counter or scan a QR code at the table with a phone. Then a food runner delivers the order to their table.

“This is about a 90 to 100-seat area between the bar and the eatery. We have been able to cover that whole area many, many times with just 3 people,” said Sboro

He says in their first year of operation, they are doing well and have been able to save money with this concept.

But even with fewer staff per shift, the need for help is still there.

He says they want to expand to 7-day a week service

“We believe that it is there, so that is why we are hiring. Not because we can’t find anybody. We haven’t really asked or advertised yet but we know it is always an issue for sure,” said Sboro.

Watertown Local Development Corporation CEO Don Rutherford brought in Mayforth to speak about the issue last week.

He tells 7 News that they don’t have an answer yet on how to tackle it but he feels more assistance with training employees could be part of the solution.