Subway owner pulls teen son out of school amid labor shortage

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A Subway franchise owner in Utah said she had to yank her 16-year-old son out of school to work in the store amid a paralyzing labor shortage.

Sharon Cockayne told Fox 13 this has been the biggest challenge she has faced in her two decades running a Subway restaurant near Salt Lake City International Airport.

“I’ve brought my 16-year-old son in after pulling him out of school once, my boyfriend has come in to help me, it’s gotten to that point,” she said. “It’s scary.”

Cockayne said she’s hiked wages by $2 an hour since the beginning of the year, but she’s still been unable to get enough applications.

“Nobody is getting that extra unemployment anymore; we still have a shortage and it’s just a mystery,” she said, referring to pandemic-boosted unemployment benefits that paid out an extra $300 per week.

Those outsized benefits — which were blamed by Republicans and some economists for keeping able-bodied workers on the sidelines — ended in September.

Cockayne said she wants to hire three people and has been advertising openings online. She said she normally recruits high school students for the jobs, but teens aren’t applying now.

Sharon Cockayne
Cockayne says she’s hiked wages $2 an hour since the beginning of the year but is still understaffed.
FOX13

“Where is everybody, why are they not working?” she asked, according to Fox 13.

The shortage of workers throughout the US economy has hit small businesses particularly hard, spurring many to think of new ways to find the workers they need to stay open.

Economists have warned that the lack of workers threatens to hold back the recovery of the US economy just as it’s seeking to mount a robust recovery from the depths of the pandemic.

It’s unclear what’s at the root of the shortage, with some suggesting that workers won’t return to work until companies hike wages and benefits while others have speculated that the US labor market is fundamentally altered since the beginning of the pandemic, with many now seeking to earn money on their own terms rather than through wages.

The monthly non-farm payroll report, due on Friday, will shed fresh light on the recovery of the labor market, showing how many jobs the US added in October.

The latest report will come after two consecutive months of disappointing figures.

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