The New Jersey labor shortage has been going on for months, but with the start of the holiday season fast approaching things are getting even worse for smaller shops and businesses.

Many larger stores and companies, including Target, Walmart and Amazon are offering monetary bonuses and other perks for prospective employees that smaller stores in the Garden State are just not able to match, according to Eileen Kean, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“The small businesses cannot compete with the box stores, because they can’t offer those sign-on bonuses and often they can’t compete with the hours the box stores will offer,” she said.

Kean noted big companies like Amazon and Walmart can offer the chance to earn even more money right now because so many New Jerseyans have started their holiday shopping and the stores need workers interested in working overtime.

She said the result of this is smaller businesses are now even more behind the 8-ball, right as the make-or-break final 8 weeks of the year stretch is beginning.

“I heard of a sanitation company offering a $7,000 sign-on for an independent contractor, so it’s just across the board at so many levels,” said Kean.

She to be able to survive the owners of many smaller shops and businesses are forced to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week and the problem continues to get worse.

“In every downtown in New Jersey right now, you can’t drive very far on any major highway without seeing the signs for help wanted,” she said.

So when will things get back to normal?

Kean said no one really knows if things will ever go back to what they were pre-pandemic.

“I’m seeing this a lot where employees are just saying hey I’m done, this is just too much, I’m going south and I’m getting out of New Jersey,” she said.

She pointed out there is definitely a lot of older workers in New Jersey “who but for the pandemic probably would have worked another 10, 15 years, who are just packing it in and saying enough, New Jersey is expensive and it’s very tough.”

Some stores including Target have already started offering Black Friday deals, Walmart kicks off its online Black Friday sales bonanza November 3, and Amazon and other major retailers are expected to start offering super deals in the coming days.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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