Missouri Minute: Pay climbs for leisure, hospitality workers; southwest Missouri COVID-19 cases increase

Hello, MBA readers,

Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry across the U.S. made average hourly wages of $18.09 in May, higher than ever before and up 5% from January, according to the May jobs report. The increase could be indicative of national labor shortages in concert with a sudden boom for leisure and hospitality businesses as Americans begin to venture out more and more. The Federal Reserve Bank’s latest Beige Book report reflected a similar trend in a different industry, with labor shortages interrupting supply chains and leading to an understaffed manufacturing sector that’s suddenly seeing sky-high demand. In fresh news of resurgent COVID-19 rates, the southwestern corner of Missouri is seeing a spike in virus cases. The cases in the Springfield and Joplin areas have caused a jump in hospitalizations as well. Hospitals in the area are reporting an uptick in COVID-19 patients and a 20% positivity rate, up from 5% two weeks ago.

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Leisure, hospitality workers see pay rise as demand picks up
Average hourly earnings for the sector have jumped 5% since the beginning of the year to $18.09 in May, a new record. But it’s not clear if that will be enough to draw workers back. (Reuters)

Southwest Missouri cities see increase in COVID-19 cases
Virus cases and hospitalizations have increased in the Springfield and Joplin areas over the last couple weeks. (Associated Press)

Texas vineyards sue Bayer, BASF over alleged herbicide damage
Nearly 60 vineyards filed a lawsuit against the agribusiness companies, claiming their dicamba weedkiller damaged thousands of acres of grapes. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Low water levels expected for Missouri River
After heavy flooding in recent years, the river is expected to see only 69% of its average water flow. (Associated Press)

Teach for America to stop sending new teachers to St. Louis
The nonprofit, which sends recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools, said student achievement rates in St. Louis have not been satisfactory. The organization plans to instead invest more heavily in its alumni in the area. (St. Louis Business Journal)

St. Louis city pools face lifeguard shortage
Some of the city’s pools have been forced to remain closed or operate under limited hours due to lack of staff. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Say that again

“Now, all of a sudden, it’s a candidate market. Candidates are now saying, ‘Look, I really want flexibility in my job. I want to work from the comfort of my own home.'”

That’s Megan Usovsky, director of business development at the St. Louis office of recruiting firm Robert Half. She’s noticing that, as companies wrestle with labor shortages, they’re often offering flexibility to entice new employees. That flexibility can be offered in the form of remote options, but in some cases it also means flexible hours or even flexible days. Other companies are trying higher wages and incentives, like one trucking company offering new drivers in Lee’s Summit a $9,000 sign-on bonus.

Go figure


That was the unemployment rate for the Columbia metro area in April, down from 3.0% from the month prior, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics data. All eight Missouri metro areas measured by the BLS showed decreases in unemployment in April, the Springfield Business Journal reports. Rates for the state’s metro areas ranged from a high of 4.4% in St. Louis to a low of 2.6% in Columbia. Those metro area numbers for April preceded Friday’s national jobs report for May, which showed continued improvement in the labor market, a national unemployment rate of 5.8% and large job gains in the leisure and hospitality sector.

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Chesterfield Mall in St. Louis County is slated for demolition. In the meantime, you can catch locals playing badminton and pickleball in what used to be the food court. The mall has also become home to remote-control car racing, a shooting club, a history museum and more, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The mall’s state gives these new tenants an opportunity: large, open space for relatively low rent. And though foot traffic isn’t what it used to be, the mall isn’t dead yet.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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