PITTSBURGH – It’s 4:30 a.m. and Raymond Mikesell’s alarm has gone off.
Within an hour, as the first pink and orange rays of morning light reflected off the city’s skyscrapers, Mikesell was at his Café Raymond restaurant in the Strip District, Main Street for businesses. small of the city.
Along the way, he stops by grocers, hoping they’ll have the produce and stock he needs for the day. But he ended up having to turn down the drink distributor at his own queuing dock.
“I ordered over $1,000 of bottled water, tea and drinks and he told me he only had about $100 of what I ordered for the day. This is the third time in a week that this has happened,” said Mikesell, 55, shaking his head.
And, as far as the worker goes, all he can do is hope that people show up for their shift and maybe today someone will respond to the ad he placed. in March to look for a server.
To date, he says, no one has come to interview for jobs beyond the $15 an hour schedule that have asked all businesses — including small ones — to pay employees.
Joe Mistick, sitting on the balcony of Café Raymond, says the problems small business owners face here in the Strip District are a microcosm of what’s happening across the country.
“If it’s happening here, it’s happening everywhere,” said Mistick, a former chief of staff to two Pittsburgh mayors and now a law professor at Duquesne University.
There are 30.7 million small businesses in the United States, representing 99% of all U.S. businesses, according to data collected by the US Small Business Administration.
And a lot of small businesses in the US are currently facing a crisis, rooted in a perfect storm of problems: workforce shortages, broken supply chains, and very real inflation. economy although President Biden has dismissed it as “temporary. ”
Generous federal unemployment benefits funded by Biden’s USA Rescue Plan now give people $300 a week in federal money to supplement state unemployment aid, the average also $300 a week. Add those numbers up and the incentive for workers to stay home rather than get a job is real.
“We’re Hiring” signs are posted throughout the strip district’s small stores. A poster that reads “Temporarily Closed” hung on the door of Deluca’s Diner for weeks because they couldn’t find the server and the chef, according to the owner’s father.
Jimmy Coen, owner of three sports-themed grocery stores called Yinzers explains.
“If somewhere along the supply chain someone doesn’t have enough workers to make a product or load a product or deliver their product, the small business person is not sure if they will be in the market. store what consumers ask for.”
As a result, shortages of everything have spread across the country – from labor to lumber, from chemicals in swimming pools to packets of ketchup. Even when the products are in production, there are still some drivers who die to deliver them.
Coen is president of the Strip District Business Association, which includes nearly 30 small businesses along Penn Avenue. He said that if they do not get the goods they need, small business owners will be forced to raise prices to make a living.
“These shortfalls are what caused inflation to soar,” he said.
Last week, the Ministry of Labor report Consumer prices rose 5.4% in June, the fastest pace on record in 13 years.
Mikesell says the cost of fresh meat is out of control.
“Brisket is up 30% easily, beef in general is overpriced. So is the salmon. So is the chicken. And don’t make me pay for fuel when you deliver. ”
Mistick said people on Penn Avenue hustled last year to find ways to stay afloat amid the pandemic-induced closures.
“Raymond is creating Sunday dinners for four for family pickup, Jimmy is selling face masks on his storefront table, Pennsylvania Macaroni is delivering dry ice Italian groceries to their customers. They all worked hard to survive and they did. ”
If you had told Mikesell midway through the COVID crisis that once the economy started to recover he would not be able to attract workers or supplies, he would never have believed you.
“Honestly, I’m shocked,” he said. “I think this is where we ended up.”
Salena Zito is the author of “The Great Uprising: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics. “
https://nypost.com/2021/07/24/american-labor-crisis-has-hit-all-small-businesses-on-this-street/ | American labor crisis has hit all small businesses on this street