Labor, supply shortages reach some Odessa businesses

Local News

ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – Supply shortages are showing up in the basin. A handful of local businesses aren’t just dealing with limited items, but with workers, too.

At the Taco Bell on County Road West in Odessa, paper signs are posted on the dining room’s door, telling customers, only drive-thru is available due to a staff shortage.

The labor shortage briefly hit Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant on Andrews Hwy.

“People would actually apply. They worked for one day, then they would quit,” said assistant manager Patricia Gonzalez.

Recently, Patricia said it was difficult finding cooks for the back of the house. That meant, for the cooks working, they had to work longer hours to adjust to the shortage. For a restaurant, Patricia says the kitchen is critical in operations because it’s where the food is made and where orders are completed.

“We would hire five, then expect two to three to stay,” Gonzalez said.

Service is returning to normal now that the restaurant‘s kitchen is fully-staffed.

“There’s definitely opportunities for people to work. I think our unemployment rate shows that. I think the ‘Help Wanted’ signs everywhere show that,” said Wesley Burnett, former Director of Economic Development at Odessa Chamber of Commerce. Burnett is now Project Integration Director at Nacero.

Wesley says labor shortages and even supply shortages are a direct impact from the Coronavirus pandemic. Labor shortages are likely due to a change among people previously in the workforce, whether from health, new opportunities outside of the service and retail industry, or the recent and widespread chance to work from home.

But this shortage issue is not unique to Odessa. It’s happening nationwide.

There are several contributing factors. Like at major U.S. ports, in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California, there is congestion, which has impacted the delivery of products. High consumer demand, transportation expenses, and manufacturing delays are also variables that have influenced disruptions in the international supply chain.

During the pandemic last year, a number of factories overseas also shut down. Consequently, shipping companies reportedly changed their schedules to adjust to a drop in demand for goods worldwide.

“I hear they’re not producing as much because they’re shorthanded, too,” Gonzalez said.

She says at Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant, supplies like to-go containers, and seafood products, like octopus and catfish, are running low.

While the pandemic’s impact is still visible, it hasn’t stopped businesses from operating.

“We’re going to have to make adjustments in our lives. That’s what we do. We do that better out here than anywhere,” Burnett said. “We accommodate, we pivot… That’s what we do in West Texas and we’ll get through this, also.”

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