CHIPPEWA FALLS (WQOW) - The phrase "workforce shortage" has become all too common in recent months, but it's not just a problem across the U.S. or in other parts of Wisconsin. For Chippewa Valley companies, many are struggling to reach full staff as Americans return to work post-pandemic.
To help local businesses and unemployed Wisconsinites, a job fair was held Wednesday afternoon in Chippewa Falls, with over 50 area businesses looking to fill open positions.
"The pandemic has definitely impacted this," said Shamara Lockwood, with Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. "We're at about 25 percent right now."
For Lockwood, her company has increased its recruitment budget by 10% in just the past few months, all in an attempt to return to pre-pandemic staffing.
"We're looking at things like hiring bonuses, retention bonuses, wage increases, employee referral bonuses," Lockwood said. "Really just trying to get creative."
For those who are unemployed or searching for a new job, the mass amount of open positions has placed the ball in their court. Businesses have to get competitive with signing bonuses, benefits, referral bonuses, and more.
Pat Wild was one of the people that checked out Wednesday's job fair. He said this form of competition is telling of how much the pandemic impacted the economy.
"I did see a sign that had a $2,000 signing bonus," Wild said. "And I wouldn't say it's desperate, but, maybe these are desperate times with COVID and the way it's affected our nation."