It's hard to drive around the SouthCoast and not see the signs. There are a number of businesses who just can't conduct business as usual because they simply don't have the staffing.

Those businesses that do have the help seem to be running on skeleton crews where everything is OK until someone is sick or needs a day off.

There are more "help wanted" signs on the SouthCoast than I've ever seen in my entire life, and they've been posted for so long, it seems like the owners are wasting their time. The stakes continue to rise, with signing bonuses and attractive hourly wages, but even the added money doesn't seem to be enough to tip the scales enough to get people back to work.

Until now.

Will businesses finally see a shift back to more normal times in the very near future? This Labor Day weekend marks the end of the federal government's additional unemployment benefits. It's a date that many local business owners have circled on the calendar. When the benefits end, will that inspire the unemployed to accept some of the open positions that have been sitting unfilled for months?

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My hope is that more people will re-enter the workforce. I hope this for a few reasons. I feel so badly for the people who are out there working, whether it be in retail, restaurants, or the service industries. There just aren't enough people on staff to properly offer the same level of customer service that the general public is used to, and the workers that showed up to work are forced to face the brunt of the blowback.

There's also a chicken-and-egg factor. Many parents can't head back to work because there's a lack of day care available. The lack of day care available is because there aren't enough staff members working. As you can see, it is a vicious cycle.

A return to normal business hours and staffing would be nice for shoppers and business owners alike. Let's hope that the increased wages and benefits we've seen can balance out the give and take between workers and owners.

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