SAC Preview: Workforce Challenges and Solutions

This morning I read about 3 economists who’ve been awarded the Nobel Prize for their research and impact on critical workforce issues including minimum wage, immigration, and education. Their research on minimum wage in the 1990s found that raising the minimum wage had no effect on the number of employees, showing that companies could effectively raise the minimum wage, retain top talent, and increase the number of applicants in the labor pool. That was 30 years ago. 

We’ve come a long way, but as we find ourselves in 2021, employers struggle to find and retain talent – particularly in retail and hospitality. So, we’re changing things up. Hourly wages are increasing in our local area and throughout the US. Read these highlights from writer Gene Marks in The Guardian this week: 

“According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly earnings of all employees in the US working for private companies rose to $30.85 in September, following large increases in the prior five months…The National Association of Manufacturers says that its members plan to increase wages 3.5% over the next year…Those businesses that accept this reality will adapt and continue to profit. They will hire good people and succeed. Those business owners that refuse to understand this simple concept simply won’t.”

Bank of America, Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and more are raising wages for the lowest-paid workers. By raising wages, big business and small business alike are seeing benefits such as higher employee engagement, improved customer satisfaction, and better public perception. 

As one restaurant owner said, “We put the focus on ‘staff comes first and everything else comes second’…I can’t succeed without a staff.” 

We can make a shift together. As employers, as community leaders, we can move the needle forward and create workplaces that put People First. 

My team’s wonderful leader, Mary Ila Ward, is speaking in-depth about Workforce Challenges and Solutions at the Southern Automotive Conference this week. I hope you’ll join us to hear her insight on the future of work.

Learn more about SAC2021 and other upcoming events at

Jillian Miles Massey

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