Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Nashville business leaders cite housing, traffic as workforce challenges

By meerna Jul10,2024
Nashville business leaders cite housing, traffic as workforce challenges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new report from NashvilleHealth and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce sheds light on some of the biggest challenges facing the city’s workforce.

“(I) encourage people when they get this information to take it as information that will allow us to move forward and be progressive in the face of these challenges,” said NashvilleHealth CEO Mark Yancy. “I think Nashville has a tremendous capacity to address these issues better than any other city I know.”

The two organizations interviewed leaders from across the industry, including the Tennessee Hospital Association, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

The Workforce Wellness report states, “Because of Nashville’s status as a ‘hot’ city, companies from
across the country are moving their headquarters and operations here. As a result, interviews revealed that the influx of new residents, many of whom are recruited for high-paying, high-skilled jobs, has led to accessibility issues that have put pressure on middle-income residents.”

The researchers found that the average annual earnings of individuals increased by 23%
between 2018 and 2023 in the Nashville MSA, while the median home price increased by 57.7%. They said migration trends show many residents are moving out of Nashville to more affordable counties.

“That pressure can actually get to the point where you say, ‘I want to work somewhere closer to where I live.’ That’s a real thief. If you’re, you know, in the restaurant business and your servers work certain hours, you really don’t want them to have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get back,” Yancy said. “All of that to say, the transit part of this is something we couldn’t get away from last year.”

Business leaders told pollsters that ‘growing demand for labour is putting strain on the region’
public transportation, housing availability, and more. Workers are having to live farther and farther away to afford housing.” They described the commute to Nashville as “terrible at best” with a need to “systematically rethink housing, traffic, transportation, and child care.”

In addition to the mental health issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Workforce Wellness report also highlights the challenges of recruiting and retaining employees.

“There was a phenomenon of workplace trauma, staffing shortages, and workforce shortages that led to burnout for those who were being left behind,” Yancy said.

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Yancy said the pandemic has put Nashville in a difficult position to maintain its workforce while also dealing with the rising costs of growth, such as housing affordability. It’s also competing with other cities — Denver, Austin, Charlotte — that have better statistics on the health and well-being of their workforces.

“These cities are actually healthier in terms of life expectancy, high blood pressure, poor mental health, it sounds like we’re just spitting out data. But then when you start to realize that companies are sophisticated enough, particularly in that they’re bringing a fair amount of jobs into the city, to actually look at these things,” Yancy said. “Let’s say a company hires a lot of employees who actually have to show up and be on site. Well, that difference in life expectancy is a chronic disease that’s going to show up on your insurance that you’re paying for, you’re going to have more claims.”

Employers are facing increased competition in many industries, the report said. It found that “the demand for qualified and available candidates has increased, but the number of people applying for jobs or meeting job requirements has decreased.”

By meerna

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