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Working students face labor shortage side effects

From fast food to local coffee shops, businesses across the country have experienced a drastic lack of employees, and working students might be hit the hardest. Ever since the nation shut down due to COVID, numerous businesses have struggled to keep employees and stay afloat. According to, a record 9.3 million jobs are open in America, and 25% to upwards of 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs.

Although countless have quit, students who continue to work face unique and strenuous side effects.

“When I worked at Pitchtree Cafe, there was a staff of about seven people, and I had no choice but to work six days a week, open to close, for a total of 55 hours,” said junior Seth Smith.

Mental health has always been a concern for highschoolers, and COVID has not helped. When paired with a heavy highschool schedule, working longer hours becomes a major issue.

“There’s just a lot of stress on all the employees to make sure that we stay running efficiently,” said senior Paige Hunter, who works at the Hickory Flat Chick-fil-A. “There are worries for all of our mental health because it's a lot of hours, and it's a lot of hard work.”

Employees aren’t the only ones suffering from labor shortages. The speed, productivity and reliability of the businesses themselves are undoubtedly affected. Even student favorite Chick-fil-A struggles to produce at its normal level of efficiency, according to Hunter.

Senior Melissa Cribb and alumna Sara Kate Jones hold up clock-out tickets from their jobs at the Woodstock Outlet Chick-fil-A.

“We don’t have enough people to fill every position we need, so we often run behind on making food and have to wait a lot,” said Hunter.

Highschool students are unique in the fact that they have to prioritize school over their job, but they still need money to pay bills. Smith recognizes that students have the capability to find positions and jobs they feel good about if they can apply themselves.

“I think it's important [for highschoolers] start choosing their employers instead of always being the chosen employee,” said Smith. “I think that kids need to start being a little more confident in their potential.”

While customers and employees suffer, the shortages continue. Junior Erik Wetterling believes that a solution is in sight.

“I think that the job shortage problem will resolve when every business has finally adapted and has an understanding of their individual issues,” said Wetterling.

While businesses have the power to fix internal obstacles, employees are the solution to labor shortages. Eventually, people who chose not to work will be forced to support themselves and fill empty positions.

“With unemployment benefits ending, it will cause a lot of people to go back to work,” said Hunter. “I think people have gotten used to not working because of COVID and have taken that for granted, so hopefully they will realize that they need a job and get back to work.”


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