Tuscaloosa tire shop exemplifies worker shortage

As the economy and workforce slowly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Willie Burns of Burns Tire and Flat Repair says its not moving fast enough.

Unemployment figures from April show a .8% decrease from April 2020. With more than 63,000 Alabamians unemployed, this is a new record low.

But with one full-time employee, the owner of the Tuscaloosa tire shop is working more than ever before filling in for vacant positions.

“As a business owner, I don’t mind helping the guys. I like to try and help the customers, also. Because I (have) to be in two, three places at one time and then help them, too, its kinda hard,” he said.

He has advertised his needs at a number of job placement centers to get people to come work in his shop. Yesterday, two people came to his shop seeking employment.

“I’ve been working trying to get them for the past two years. I got a couple of labor finders, finally,” he said.

Burns said some of the business owners he’s talked to echoed his situation.

“They’re saying its rough: we don’t know what we’re going to do, we’re struggling, everybody is struggling for help. It ain’t easy getting help for nobody,” he explained.

If the worker shortage continues, he said he will just keep managing as he has been. He has worked too hard, he said, to let the business he made go.

“I can’t let it go. Business is business. I got to keep the customers happy,” he said.

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