What a labor shortage could mean for eateries in Dallas’ booming suburbs | Economy

Before she heads to work, Gillette, 35, has a cigarette in the courtyard oasis she and her “Grannie” have built. Kinerd basks in the sunshine, sitting among the windchimes and lawn figurines.

“She smokes — I don’t,” Kinerd, 79, said on a recent morning, grinning at her granddaughter. “She’s staying here, helping me — I’ve always enjoyed her.”

Gillette has been scaling back her hours at Fish City, though, for school. Previously, she’d been a full-time manager. Now she’s down to part time. And soon she’ll have to cut down even more as her classes ramp up.

She’s studying at a local community college to do ultrasounds.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world somehow,” she said. “I feel like being a part of helping someone stay healthy, that would be one of life’s greatest honors.”

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At the end of the day, said Mike Davis, an economist with Southern Methodist University, there’s no cure-all for a broad labor shortage that has not only sent restaurant operators scrambling but also has hammered the Dallas-Fort Worth construction industry.

“When you have the unemployment rate that we have now … we’re going to see labor shortages,” the economist at SMU’s Cox School of Business said. The metro area’s jobless rate has hovered around 4 percent — a rate that economists say is, essentially, full employment.

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