A March 15, 2021, article on explored the potential negative impact that a $15 minimum wage would have on many racehorse trainers and other racing businesses.  Another glaring issue is that it is increasingly difficult for small businesses to find employees.  This has always been a problem in horse racing because of the long work hours, travel, and relatively low pay and benefits.

Now the problem has been exacerbated by the federal government’s pandemic-related rescue packages that, in effect, compete with private-sector hiring.  In fact, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)–the largest advocacy organization for small enterprises in the United States–reports that 40 percent of small business owners could not fill job openings in February 2021, a seven percent increase from January.  This resulted even though 25 percent of small businesses boosted compensation to attract job-seekers.

The scarcity of job applicants comes in the midst of a recovering economy with around 10 to 18 million people counted as unemployed.

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) asked: “So, where are the workers?”

The answers include the lack of childcare for families whose children are being schooled remotely as many schools are either not open or are using a hybrid schedule.  FEF also said that people with pre-existing health conditions could be fearful of resuming work outside the home.

FEF went on to say:

“But all things considered, the federal government’s increase and extension of jobless benefits is likely playing an outsized role in the decision many Americans are making to stay home.

Prior to the pandemic, the average person on unemployment received $378 a week, and most states offered these benefits for a period of 26 weeks or less. But in response to the lockdowns (that the government itself implemented), Congress began passing ‘relief’ packages in 2020 that vastly expanded those numbers.

At the height of the pandemic, individuals were paid $600 a week by the federal government, giving the average collector a weekly rate of $978 for an extended period of 39 weeks.

Under the new [2021] legislation, out-of-work Americans can collect benefits through September of this year (depending on the program) and will receive between $300-$400 additional federal dollars per week.”

While unemployed Americans need help in this difficult time, the federal government’s efforts to address pandemic-related unemployment have had an adverse effect on employers.  Until herd immunity from COVID-19 is attained and the economy returns to a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy, small businesses will struggle to have enough employees to serve their customers.

An unknown percentage of horse-racing businesses will have to at least temporarily curtail the size of their operations and some may go out of business altogether.

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