Thursday, April 15, 2021

Worker Shortages Threaten Commerce, Supply & Distribution Chains

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture & Commerce Andrew Gipson submitted this guest column. 

For over a year, supply and distribution chains in America have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and the related workforce shutdowns.  Initially last spring, government mandates driven by the virus and by CDC recommendations forced many people other than those deemed “essential workers” to stay home from their jobs.  For some, work could continue remotely as workers, teachers and students adapted to virtual classrooms and other technology-based methodologies.  But for the bulk of the workforce and the public relying on manufactured and processed products, these shutdowns had an immediately noticeable impact in temporarily interrupting manufacturing and distribution systems across the country, and even around the world. 

I can give you one real-life example from the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.  In 2020, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce made the decision to continue working during pandemic restrictions, including the completion of the new Mississippi Trade Mart and Coliseum renovations.  As the new Trade Mart was nearing completion, the contractor was faced with major backlogs in supplies from manufacturers across America – manufacturers who had halted or slowed operations.  The dividing doors for the new Trade Mart being manufactured in another state were delayed six weeks, thus delaying the entire project.  But this was only a small symptom of a much broader crisis. 

Commissioner Gipson
International trade halted or slowed.  Manufacturing and food processing facilities shut down or scaled back as workers were forced home.  Prices increased dramatically due to temporary shortages in products such as ground beef, coupled with higher demand.  Lumber prices climbed exponentially as sawmills could not keep up with demand of the home improvement sector.  Thankfully, most of these issues were only temporary as employers and workers adapted to find ways to keep plants open during the pandemic and eventually caught up with consumer demand. 

But as a lingering effect of COVID-19, I believe there remains a far greater and perhaps more significant long-term threat.  Since last spring, governors across America’s 50 states have taken vastly different approaches in terms of “reopening” states as the threat of COVID-19 has dissipated.  Some states such as California, New Mexico and New York have insisted on essential perpetual shutdowns of large portions of their manufacturing and economic sector.  Meanwhile, states such as Mississippi, Texas and Florida have successfully reopened nearly completely, and employers are hiring.  The problem is, in both sets of states, employers are faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem:  the lack of a once existing robust workforce that is willing to return to work.

People are choosing to stay home because the federal government adopted stimulus and unemployment policies making it more profitable for some people NOT to work for a lengthy period of time.   Many people ask the question: “Why work when the government will pay me to stay home?”  And so, jobs are not being filled.  Factories are not operating at capacity.  Slaughterhouses and food processing plants are not keeping up with demand.  In America right now, there is a shortage of pork products – not because of COVID, but because of a shortage of workers.

The agriculture sector has faced a shortage of skilled laborers for many years, and this is an issue my office has been working on since 2019.  But the issue now is much broader and impacts all of us.  Try to purchase a piece of manufactured equipment right now or parts to make a repair; chances are that delivery is severely delayed. There is a shortage of cashiers in grocery stores and other retail outlets, causing long lines and extreme wait times.  Restaurants cannot serve at full capacity due to a shortage of staff.  Cattle producers are experiencing delays in having livestock processed for consumption because there is a waitlist at the processor due to high demand and fewer workers. 

If Americans in all 50 states are not soon motivated to return to work, and if the incentives NOT to work are not removed, we could see the temporary shortages of the COVID Spring of 2020 repeat themselves in construction, manufacturing and transportation, as well as food production, processing and distribution at grocery stores, restaurants and ultimately, at our dinner tables. 

America, let’s all get back to work.


Anonymous said...

Pay up or shut down.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

These agricultural based businesses wont pay a wage that a citizen needs in order to pay a mortgage. So they will just import third worlders who will gladly live 12 to a trailer and get pregnant and qualify for EBT. And then they can claim as many relatives as dependents (the IRS lets workers from Mexico and Canada claim dependents back home) and get HUGE tax returns.

Why would a person want to go work their butts off just to have uncle sam rape them with taxes to give benefits to immigrants and lazy urbanites? Not this one. Keep those covid checks coming! If they can print money to buy nuclear submarines and stealth fighters then they can print money for me!

Anonymous said...

Someone tell this clown to stay in his lane. Leave office and run for governor if you think you have a shot.

Anonymous said...

These agricultural based businesses wont pay a wage that a citizen needs in order to pay a mortgage.

Hell, why stop moving the goalposts at merely a mortgage?

Anonymous said...

Not much has changed since Edward R Murrow documented the situation 60 years ago

Very few seemed to be ashamed then and few are ashamed today.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. No one should earn a living wage unless they are an Ole Miss or MSU alumni! Debt slavery is all that the plebs deserve and they shall have it!

Anonymous said...

I was hoping he'd address last week's melee at the mudbug fest. To keep up with Lynn, he needs a red cowboy hat.

Anonymous said...

Betcha in say, about another year or two, the contraction of workers (due to media perpetuated Covid fear and desperate financial "stimulus" that has run its course) we will likely see a nationwide economic contraction (i.e. crash) that will make the 1930s look like gravy days.

America is spoiled lazy, and has lost its grit. War will be on the horizon soon after. Over half the damn country wants to be taken care of, and not have to think for themselves. Law enforcement heroes will resign en masse......So bread and circuses here we come - everyone is equal alright, equally miserable. Election integrity is the only thing that can save America. Good morning to everybody!

Anonymous said... we don’t need immigrants who are willing to work in slaughterhouses, meat processing, farming?

they are the only ones who will DO that work. why no shoe factories here? people don’t want to work that job.

when an unemployment check is more than a wage, it’s not a governmental problem but a private sector business one.

the only places that are having a tough time right now are the ones that don’t pay. costco, walmart are doing just fine but the “minimum wage” job can’t even find a teenager..

Anonymous said...

The only thing that really matters to the US economy is that the US Gov can cultivate enough taxable income through deficit spending to service the interest on the national debt. They accomplish this by spending on defense, agriculture, business services, etc. Only ignorant people hot upset when President Obama stated that Government creates and sustains the US economy. Government contracts make people millionaires and billionaires.

Anonymous said...

Have a manufacturer in the delta that is offering starting salary of $15/hr, first day full benefits with 401k. Employee has option to work on Saturday for time and 1/2 and on Sunday double time. They cannot find any new employees. You can certainly pay your bills with that kind of money.

Anonymous said...

Farm workers, like teachers, don't work a full year most of the time. Both sit out about 3 months.

Anonymous said...

All this shit was started by this Government over a cold. Some day we may, I say May, learn.

Anonymous said...

Jim Buck Gipson is correct. If you just simply eat out, restaurants run out of food, grocery stores can't get the Purina Beneficial brands. I believe all the benes run out in September. We'll hanfg on until then.

Anonymous said...

Import the third world, become the third world. In 1965 this country was less than 1% hispanic.

Now it's almost 20% hispanic and 70% of them vote democrat.

Hope the cheap labor is worth it for your children are living in a socialist hellhole

Anonymous said...

Throw the “not high enough wages” into the ever growing excuse pile that lazy people use to validate free guvment money. We go over wages at the interview, but most of the unemployed won’t even (keep their word) and show up for an interview. If they do show up, they have zero skills, not to mention, how to be just somewhat professional.

The day this country lets lazy people direct its future is the day we won’t have a future.

Anonymous said...

Name three places of bidness that pay minimum wage. It's a myth.

Anonymous said...

The predictable response from one of the socialists who comment here is normal for them - it's the lack of a "living wage". There have always been poor people at the bottom of the rung. There always will be. The "poor" in this country are richer than the poor anywhere else. The actual poor across the world are trying to find their next meal and live in tin or cardboard shacks. Our poor have cell phones, cars, microwaves, TVs, eat junk food, and are obese and smoke cigarettes. Obviously that is a blanket statement and doesn't apply to all the poor. It's tough to make it on $15/hour, no doubt. The problem is that expectations are too high. Equality is a myth. There will always be an underclass unable or unwilling to advance beyond poverty. A man most people in Mississippi worship as God said 2000 years ago, "the poor you have with you always", and "having food and raiment, therewith be content".

Take away the "stimulus" money, extra unemployment, all the benefits, and people would work or starve. This would fix the labor shortage problem. People astound me who think all the free money doesn't result in people not working. These are people who can't think past Friday. If you have ever worked with these kind of people you know what I mean. There are people who won't show up on Friday if you pay yen on Thursday. They come back to work on Monday because they spent all their money over the weekend. Yes, the free money is the problem.

Anonymous said...

I said to some friends something very similar to you (but less eloquently) 7:00am.

I suggested that I sympathize sincerely with the plight of minimum wage workers, but that a "living wage" is not supposed to include the same car that a professional is able to afford.

I am not opposed to all suggestions to increase minimum wage, but working hard and moving up the ladder should always be the goal and the path to more money.

I think many young people want the same things Mom and Dad have and they want it the day they graduate college.

I did not own a home until I was 30 and it was a very small starter home.
I drove very used cars and was one of the last young people (way back when) that could afford a cell phone.

And honestly I blame parents for the youth and their unrealistic need for immediate gratification.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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