Note: we are republishing this story to highlight how American business owners are reacting and adjusting to the ongoing labor challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Springfield, Missouri, billboard is sparking controversy with its message addressing the nationwide labor shortage.
The sign, paid for by local business owners, reads: “GET OFF YOUR BUTT! Get. To. Work. Apply Anywhere.”
Brad Parke, general manager of Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroider, is one of the business owners behind the billboard. The others wanted to remain anonymous.
“We don’t know where people are,” Parke said. “Obviously they’re not at work. Apparently they’re at home. So that’s where we came up with ‘Get Off Your Butt.’ And then the ‘Apply Anywhere’ is about everyone’s looking for employees.”
“You can’t drive a block through a commercial district without someone having a sign saying ‘Now Hiring.’ There are billboards for minimum wage jobs to executive jobs and no one can find anybody to work,” he added.
The billboard caught the attention of Twitter users, sparking a number of responses.
“Billboards cursing at the unemployed to ‘Get off your butt and go to work,’” one person wrote.
Another commented: “Sounds like desperate billionaires crying that no one wants to work for minimum and no benefits.”
“I’d be happy to get off my butt...and show him exactly where he can kiss it,” tweeted another. “Nobody owes anyone else their labor,” a third wrote.
Someone else commented: “If you’re having trouble hiring a giant billboard saying ‘Get off your butt and get to work’ probably isn’t the best way to get employees.”
However, others supported the message.
“Why would you not like this?” one person commented.
A second wrote: “If it does outrage you then it’s probably for you, and you’re most likely the same person that leaves the shopping cart in the way of a parking spot at a grocery store.”
“If this offends you then you are the problem,” another person wrote.
“Tired of rising cost then get to work and reduce inflation. Living off the government is BS,” someone else wrote.
One Facebook comment read: “Great billboard.”
Parke stated: “So many people have their feelings on their sleeve. Get over it! It’s time to grow up.”
With the shortage of employees amid the coronavirus pandemic, many companies are offering bonuses and raised wages.
“There are simply not enough workers to fill the open jobs by about a million nationwide,” Sally Payne, director of workforce development with the city of Springfield, said.
She stated that the Springfield labor shortage is largely because COVID-19, even though there are other factors, including the younger generation’s higher expectations in their employers, people thinking about career changes, health concerns, and women unable to go back to work with school closure risks.
As of September 26, the Missouri Department of Labor received 2,853 initial unemployment claims, compared to 5,442 claims the week before. In August, Missouri’s unemployment rate was 4%.