North Fork businesses feel strain of labor shortage as busy fall season approaches

Business owners on the North Fork are concerned about a labor shortage with fall activities like apple and pumpkin picking set to bring tourists to the area.
Magic Fountain Ice Cream in Mattituck felt that issue when it had to close two days a week in the height of the summer because it didn’t have enough workers.
The ice cream shop’s owner, Choudry Ali, says the issue persists.
“I would love to have 25 employees, but I’m down to 10 or 11,” Ali says. “So, it’s hard for me to stay open because we make everything in-house from scratch.”
The next few weeks will bring thousands of visitors to Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue, and Regina Stakey says they are desperately looking to hire.
She says she has put job postings on Facebook and help wanted signs.
“Unfortunately, I only got two responses and neither one panned out,” Stakey says.
Some experts say the extra federal unemployment money deterred some people from seeking work.
However, others believe the extra federal unemployment benefits had very little to do with the job situation. The Labor Department issued a report saying that states that discontinued the benefits in June saw the same or even smaller job growth than states that continued them throughout the summer.
Experts also say fears regarding the pandemic kept some people from wanting customer service jobs and seeing people face to face.
Business owners are telling their customers to be patient. They say they are short-staffed, and a lot of their workers are high school students.