Worker shortage affects Courier-Journal newspaper delivery

It’s no secret that businesses are having a difficult time finding workers. The pandemic set off work stoppages, closings and scaled back business. Fast food restaurants, grocers and similar retail businesses are still trying to recover even as many of the pandemic restrictions are being lifted.

But without a good number of people looking to get back into the workplace, many have not recovered to the level of 15 months ago.

It’s the same in the newspaper business. One important part is especially showing difficulty — newspaper carriers. While jobs appear to be plentiful, finding people who want to work has been a setback.

For the last few weeks, the Louisville Courier-Journal has had one of its “Top Headlines” each day read: Carrier shortage affects Courier Journal newspaper delivery.

And it’s been there most every day. The Courier Journal notes that newspapers are suffering an employee shortage as much as hotels and restaurants, industries and retail outlets.

Until a few years ago, and since the 1970s, carriers were considered employees of newspapers, not independent contractors. As employees, newspapers were responsible for workers compensation and unemployment insurance. But with the help of several newspapers, KPA introduced legislation and had it successfully passed by the legislature that carriers were indeed independent contractors. Newspapers were no longer required to carry workers compensation or be responsible for unemployment insurance.

Because of those costs, some newspapers had switched from carrier delivery to postal delivery and are still in that process.

While the Courier Journal writes about its dilemma each day, I’m sure there are several other newspapers facing similar difficulties. It could be in delivering the printed edition each day or a shopper/total market coverage product.

Let us hear from you if you’re having a similar situation and especially let us know if you’ve found a way to keep carrier delivery at a high rate.

Here’s the article published in the Courier Journal online each day.

From The Courier Journal

Across the country, as we continue slowly building toward a new normal and economic recovery, industries are reporting acute labor shortages that threaten that progress. Hotel chains are unable to find enough staff to keep rooms cleaned. Restaurants don’t have enough servers to increase capacity. Ride-share services are offering incentives in an attempt to lure more drivers. The list goes on.

Worker shortages are affecting our business, too. We’re struggling to find enough delivery drivers to get newspapers delivered on time to our subscribers in cities across the country. Throughout the USA TODAY Network, which has more than 250 publications in various cities, about 10% of our routes overall are currently open. In some cities, the situation is more dire, and it’s having an impact on our longtime, loyal subscribers.

We know it’s a frustrating situation, and we deeply apologize if you have been impacted by it. We know our subscribers love their morning routine of stepping outside to grab the newspaper and catching up on the news in their community before the day gets going. We love being part of that morning routine, too.

Our message to you today is twofold: If you are a subscriber, we want you to understand our challenges and to know we’re doing everything in our power to get the situation resolved. Please be patient and let us know when you’re missing your newspaper so we can get your account credited. Please call 800-866-2211 for assistance. Also, we hope you regularly take advantage of access to our e-edition, a digital replica of the newspaper, which can be found by clicking this link.

And if you are looking for work or know someone who is, we’d love to hear from you. Delivery drivers must have reliable transportation; we’re glad to fill you in on the rest when you call. To reach that department, call 502-582-4070. As an incentive new contractors will receive a $100 bonus after 30 days and another $100 after 90 days.

Again, thank you for your business and know that we don’t take it for granted.

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