“Everyone’s sort of competing for the same group of workers and private companies can often offer higher salaries than the state government,” said Barbara LaBoe, spokesperson for Washington state’s Department of Transportation.
More U.S. drivers could find themselves stuck on snowy highways or have their travel delayed this winter due to a shortage of snowplow drivers — a reality that could hit home Friday as winter storms start dumping snow from the Intermountain West to the Upper Great Lakes, AP reports.
States from Washington to Pennsylvania, including Montana and Wyoming in the Rocky Mountains, are having trouble finding enough people willing to take the comparatively low-paying jobs that require a Commercial Driver’s License and often entail working at odd hours in dangerous conditions.
“We want the traveling public to understand why it could take longer this season to clear highways during winter storms,” said Jon Swartz, the maintenance administrator for the Montana Department of Transportation, which is short about 90 drivers. “Knowing this helps motorists to plan ahead and adjust or even delay travel plans.”
The labor shortage and lingering concerns about the pandemic have left employers scrambling to find enough school bus drivers, waiters, cooks and even teachers. The shortage comes as the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in 52 years and some are seeking a better work-life balance.
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