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News Articles Related to Wage Increases and the Staffing Crisis

Here are pertinent articles related to wage increases, staffing, and the impacts on the labor market.

SALT LAKE CITY — There is a wide array of motivations behind a record wave of quitting that continues to sweep across the nation. Escaping job-related stress, pining for a better work/life balance, seeking a reset from pandemic-related burnout and chasing a setting with better career growth opportunities. "A lot of what we're hearing from employees is that they're exhausted," Granger said in a statement. "They're just whipped. As a result, many people are looking at their jobs, their companies, and work in general through a completely different lens.

Commentary: We are losing talented and well trained people to other industries. To provide adequate care we must combine our important purpose with competitive pay so we can attract and retain people.

State Sen. Jane Anderegg, R-Lehi said: “I would imagine that, short of doing something that brings us up to competitive[ness], we are failing, as a state, these people with rather severe disabilities,” Anderegg said. “We’re failing them, and I can't imagine anything else that we would do in government that would actually have a bigger impact.”

Commentary: We are incredibly grateful for all state legislators who are advocating for people with developmental disabilities, their families, and direct support professionals. 

 Families and agencies that serve people with disabilities called on state leaders to address a “staffing crisis” this week for a Medicaid program that helps people with disabilities live their lives. Thousands are on a waiting list to receive these services.“ People with disabilities across the state of Utah are unable to access services or are at risk of losing their services because of exponentially increasing turnover and vacancy rates for support staff. HCBS providers strive to provide high quality care, help people be integrated, and ensure that people in services have direction over their lives, but the staff shortage is threatening this,” the letter states.

Commentary: To learn more about Conner's story go to the Individual and Family Voices tab. 

A staffing shortage has left people with intellectual disabilities without essential services and their families without desperately needed help. The state’s reimbursement rates for support services, they said, are too low to pay a living wage to professional caregivers, making hiring and retaining workers nearly impossible. 

Commentary: While this story is about a Pennsylvania family the same issues are impacting people with intellectual disabilities in Utah. There are clients who are bouncing in and out of hospitals and jails because there are not caregivers to help them.

Experts say Utah’s economy has nearly completed its comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic but there is a new problem at hand for employers. The so-called “Great Resignation” has employees quitting their jobs in record numbers, leaving companies desperate to hire. ​In Utah there is 3 jobs for every jobless person.

Commentary: This data is incredibly scary for people with intellectual disabilities. Unless DSPs wages are high enough to compete with other industries people will be left without caregivers. The crisis is getting worse. Inflation is also driving employees to look for higher paying jobs to keep up with the price of increasing rents and gas bills.

Costco has raised its minimum U.S. wage to $17 an hour, That comes only a few months after the company made the jump to $16 an hour in February They join a growing list of chains that have added new incentives, trying to keep their workers in a year of mass resignations and stepped-up labor organizing. Starbucks will raise its starting pay to $15 an hour. Starbucks is planning some raises in January, but its minimum-pay increase will kick in next summer, when baristas will earn between $15 and $23 an hour.

Commentary: In one of the first news articles we posted below, Costco had raised its wages to $16 an hour. As the competition for wages continues, companies are continuing to increase wages. At the same time, those in the disability field are stuck in pre-pandemic/hiring crisis wage ranges with no ability to raise wages to competitive levels.

That gap is felt the most acutely in the service industry, where jobs disappeared during the early weeks of the pandemic and the workers have never come back. "The workers were chased away during COVID," said Mark Knold, chief economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. "The labor force moved on to other things." So where are the workers? Contrary to the common narrative, they're not "living off stimulus and unemployment checks." Utah suspended stimulus checks two months early last June. And the DWS reports the number of Utahns collecting ongoing unemployment – 8,925 – is almost exactly where it was before the pandemic. What has changed is thousands of Utah workers moved to different jobs.

Commentary: COVID forced workers to shift away from service oriented businesses and they aren't returning. To be competitive and attract great people we must offer competitive wages and benefits.

Drive across town and you'll see 'Help Wanted" signs all over. Some businesses are now opting to close entirely on certain days to avoid even more burn out. “Biggest problem is we just don’t have enough people, and nobody seems to be looking for a job,” said Jeff Ray. Many business owners hoped employees would return to work after the federal pandemic unemployment benefit of $300 ended in June.

Commentary: Companies that support people with intellectual disabilities support them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and do not have the option to reduce hours to avoid burnout.

Fears of contracting covid-19 at work have made the caregiver staffing problem worse. Persistent low pay amid a tight U.S. labor market makes it that much harder to attract workers. “We can’t compete with every retail shop paying $15 to $18 an hour,” Wilush said. The strain from an increased workload has a negative effect on caregivers, said Bryant, the caregiver in Tifton. “When you don’t have enough help, it makes you want to find another job,” she said.

Commentary: Service Providers already reeling from the staffing shortages face a crisis of care when a home is placed on quarantine. Staff and administrators who are willing to work often contract COVID and have to quarantine themselves. Many staff do not want to take the risk of working in a known COVID positive house. We need more people to help us carry this load.

Low pay and high demands fuel a worker churn that leave nonprofits and families in a constant cycle of hiring, training and forming new relationships. Competitive wages are crucial, but only part of the solution. Direct-support workers, like the people they care for, have historically been relegated to the margins. Many people without a disabled family member have no idea what a direct-support professional does. The occupation does not have its own category within the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career path is seldom promoted in high schools.

Commentary: As more and more people leave the workforce those left behind face more hours and increased responsibility, stress, fatigue, and burnout.  

The world's largest online retailer has raised pay from an average of around $17 since May. In some locations, the company is giving signing bonuses of $3,000, or triple what the company offered four months ago.

The fatter paycheck, which Reuters was first to report, shows how big employers are desperate to draw workers in an increasingly tight U.S. labor market. Fewer Americans are seeking jobless claims just as openings have hit a record in the reopening economy.

Bozeman attributed Amazon's latest compensation increase to fierce competition. 

Not counting inflation, compensation rose 2.8% between March and June, despite the relatively high unemployment rate — a trend that reflects the tight labor market. Job openings are at record-high levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Commentary: Direct Support Professionals are beginning to complain about increases in their rent and increasing gas prices for their vehicles.

The signs and banners are dotted along suburban commercial strips and hanging in shop windows and restaurants, evidence of a new desperation among America’s service-industry employers: “Now Hiring, $15 an hour.”

Intermountain Healthcare announced on Wednesday that they will raise the minimum wage for both clinical and non-clinical employees to $15 an hour starting on September 19.

Costco will raise its starting rate for hourly store workers in the United States to $16 an hour, putting its starting wage above rivals such as Amazon, Target and Best Buy.

In recent years, many rival retailers and restaurant chains have moved to a $15 an hour minimum wage. Amazon raised its starting wage to $15 in 2018, while Target and Best Buy bumped up their minimum wages to $15 last year.

Smiles on the boxes, and the faces of Amazon employees, as its senior vice president told them the retailer’s minimum wage will rise to $15 per hour starting Nov. 1. 2018.