S.C. business owners struggle to find, retain employees as thousands file for unemployment

S.C. business owners struggle to find, retain employees as thousands file for unemployment
(Source: Emily Wakeman)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Roughly 3,000 South Carolinians filed an initial claim for unemployment last week while many employers say they are struggling to find enough employees to keep their businesses afloat.

Business owners in the construction and moving industries told WIS employee shortages are a big issue right now. Some say hiring is the issue, while others say retaining their employees is the problem.

Robert Marye, the owner of Gentleman’s Movers in Columbia, said that in his 18 years of owning the business, he’s never had issues with hiring and retaining employees the way he has in recent months.

“It’s just something I’ve never seen before,” Marye said. “There’s an abundance of work out there for my guys to do. I feel like I’m sitting on a small fortune and I just don’t have the workers to do it.”

Marye said that he’s at the point where he’s turning down jobs because he doesn’t know if he’ll have the manpower to complete them.

He said one problem is filling vacant positions, saying he works with a recruiting company, but most of the time the person doesn’t show up to the job interview or shows up and then never comes to work after getting the job.

“I’ve done six interviews with this staffing company, only one guy has shown up and stayed,” Marye said.

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He said the other problem is he will fill a position, only to have the employee quit, and file for unemployment.

“My issue is having guys that will stay and not just quit, especially because of this unemployment fiasco we’ve got of people taking advantage of the system,” Marye said.

He said he feels like many people are taking advantage of the system by still collecting benefits when they haven’t been fired and aren’t looking for jobs.

“These people weren’t laid off or told hey I’m sorry I don’t have any work for you; they just quit,” Marye said.

Founder and CEO of Hood Construction Mark Hood said employee shortages in the construction industry have been a problem for years that has continued through the pandemic. He said that he would add 15 positions if he could find the manpower.

“Someone who has worked in a restaurant or hotels didn’t transfer very well to what we do,” Hood said regarding many employees who were looking for work during the pandemic. “It’s continued to be a challenge through the whole thing, and we never laid anyone off.”

The Department of Employment and Workforce says beginning April 18, they are reinstating the work search requirement after a year of it being waived.

Officials said that for claimants to remain eligible for unemployment, they will need to certify their weekly claim for remaining unemployed. They will also need to complete two job searches in the SC Works Online services portal.

SC Works is the largest jobs database with more than 75,000 jobs currently listed across the state.

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