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Workforce shortage hurting businesses in Collier County

Chamber says jobs outnumber unemployed people
Posted at 6:57 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 18:57:03-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Collier County has more jobs than it has workers. That’s the warning the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce has given this week.

As more and more “Help Wanted” signs pop up around Collier County, retail shops and restaurants that are hurt the most. And now, the people who run these stores are worried what will happen if they can’t find the workers they need.

“It’s gonna be difficult for a lot business owners to stay in business,” said Jeff Mitchell, owner of The Local, a restaurant in Naples. “It’s just become a very challenging environment for us.”

Mitchell said he’s lucky to have a loyal staff, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been hurt by the worker shortage.

“At the beginning of season we had a much more difficult time keeping staff,” the local restauranteur said. “It felt like people wanted to change jobs and do a little jumping from job to job.”

The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce said it sees 7,000 to 10,000 Collier County job openings posted online each month, and the number is growing.

And there are only 5,000 to 6,000 unemployed workers in the county, according to Chamber statistics.

Schmees said one of the biggest reasons Collier County businesses can’t find workers is affordability.

“A lot of employees could barely afford to live here before,” she said. “Now we’re seeing $500 to $1,000 rent increases.”

Added Mitchell: “It’s hard to find employees that can afford to live Collier County and that are also looking for job as a dishwasher, a line cook or a server."

And that’s forced some businesses to make changes.

“The chamber has seen and heard from employers closing early, changing hours, closing their second locations because they can’t find the workers for it.”

Schmees said the Chamber of Commerce has a talent development program that works with businesses on creating competitive employment packages. Any business looking for help can reach out to the Chamber.