Empty shelves are back

January 21, 2022

Yes, this is real life. Grocery store shortages are back.

According to NPR, reasons for the empty shelves include challenges from the beginning of the pandemic, as well as new issues.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant, labor shortages, trucking and shipping, and severe weather are a few of the reasons to blame for current grocery shortages.

Due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, more employees are becoming infected and can’t work, making it harder for grocery stores to keep up with demand.

The impact goes beyond just grocery stores:

There are workers all across the food industry supply chain who are getting sick and staying home, impacting food production, manufacturing, shipping and distribution.

This leads to labor shortages. Not only are workers getting sick, they are outright quitting their jobs. 

A recent survey conducted by the National Grocers Association found that many of its member retail and wholesale grocers reported operating their stores with 50% of their normal workforce.

The trucking and shipping industry are also experiencing labor shortages, thus causing delays that impact almost every industry’s supply chain.

Recent winter storms are also to blame. Severe weather has caused major roads to close, causing shipping delays.

There is an open question about whether or not government benefits continue to impact labor shortages. According to a recent report from The Heritage Foundation, states that ended unemployment benefits early experienced stronger employment recoveries.

Take Action

While it may seem impossible to re-engineer the supply chain to magically get bread back on the shelf, there are policies we can encourage our elected officials to support that would encourage more people to return to the workforce, including:

  1. Encourage the growth of apprenticeship programs so more more workers are qualified for complex jobs.
  2. Reduce payroll taxes to increase take-home salaries for workers.
  3. Stop laws that would limit the growth of the gig economy.

There are more ways to get involved! Use RootsHQ to connect with organizations in your area who are making a difference to get the economy going again.

Read the full article on NPR.org.

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