Lack of employees causing shortage in landscapers, others in the service industry

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Landscapers and others in the service industry are having a hard time keeping up with business because of a shortage of workers.

It's a combination of things, according to those we spoke with Monday.

A higher unemployment rate is one reason.

Some other reasons are some employees are aging out of the industry while others failed drug tests they're required to take.

But one of the biggest reasons is there just aren't enough employees to fill the jobs.

They're jobs that are many times filled by immigrant workers.

WBRC talked with several local landscape company owners who say they participate in the federal H2B program which gives immigrant workers seasonal visas to come to the United States.

But recently the government capped the number of visas given out and it's putting a strain on those in the service industry.

Scott Thompson is the general manager of Outdoor Living areas.

He has been able to stay afloat, but the shortage is keeping his company from growing.

"Every year we have grown and grown and grown and gotten bigger and bigger and bigger and this year, all we can do is kind of stay afloat because we just don't get the number of employees that we need."

Isabel Rubio is executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, also known as HICA.

She says the labor shortage will ultimately have an impact on consumers if it continues.

"As long as Congress continues to play tit for tat and hardline this issue around immigration, then we are going to continue to face this problem.  The country needs to get real, our lawmakers need to get real about what the needs are."

She says the shortage will end up costing companies more money which they will ultimately have to pass on to customers.

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