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A work? Check. A place to live? Not really.

Across the country, businesses are struggling to hire workers because there is no affordable – or available – housing nearby.

Cody Starkey makes a batch of sauce in the main kitchen of Brenda’s Pizzeria in Oakland, Maryland, near Deep Creek Lake. Starkey has worked at the pizzeria for 13 years. (Kristian Thacker/for the Washington Post)

Brenda McDonnell sells food, not hotel rooms. But that didn’t stop the owner of four restaurants in Western Maryland from setting up a motel nearby — just so her staff would have a place to live.

Home prices in Garrett County have increased 8.5 percentN.T. So over the past year, McDonnell saw an opportunity in an unused property her husband owned nearby. She renovated a group of rooms and sometimes charges a few hundred dollars a month, or just lets restaurant workers live there for free. The result: its employees can keep jobs that they otherwise would have had to turn down because they couldn’t afford housing.

“People will ask, ‘Brenda, can I rent this house for a month?’ I’ll pay you $800,’” McDonnell said. “I could make some money.” But I’m like, “No, they’re for employees.” »

Rents are finally cooling down. See how much prices have changed in your area.

Across the country, employers like McDonnell find themselves caught between booming real estate market and hot job market. In Oregon, rural school districts are grappling with how to provide enough housing for teachers. In rural areas of Arizona, hospitals rent rooms to their staff members. In Massachusetts, the state helped fund temporary housing for Cape Cod summer workers.

The result is a sort of standoff between two of the main pillars of the economy. On a small scale, these transactions simply involve business owners and employees working under individual agreements. But the underlying tensions caused by the housing market could permanently shape how people decide where to live, what jobs to take — and whether the economy works for them.

No one thinks that the lack of housing is enough to slow down the dynamics of the job market. After all, employers have been hiring for 34 months straight, and the job market is still hot. But some economists still worry about the impact of the country’s housing problems. Until enough housing is built in the places that need it most, more companies will have to get creative – through higher wages, remote work options or other perks – to ensure that their employees can find accommodation.

The real estate market recession is already coming to an end

Susan Collins, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said she has heard of companies making job offers and then losing those applicants because they couldn’t find anywhere to live. In his district, which stretches from Maine to Connecticut, some employers tell him they have begun providing buses or other transportation to workers who have no choice but to live far away.

“I look at housing as a daycare,” Collins told the Washington Post in late August. “There are a variety of reasons to be concerned about housing availability, from affordable to high prices. That’s one of the key things.

Housing issues are one of the main reasons why some people still want to work remotely. Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said she’s seen a change since the start of the pandemic, when people largely wanted to stay home because they were worried about catching covid. Now, concerns about travel costs, gas prices and rent are often at the forefront.

Many workers also go into a job search assuming they are ready to relocate, Pollak said. But ultimately, moving obstacles often get in the way.

“The gap between people willing to move and the actual numbers of successful moves for work has widened,” she said. said. “The data on rental costs and inventory levels clearly shows why this might be the case.”

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Denise Moriguchi knows the local real estate market is weighing on her team in Seattle. The general manager of Uwajimaya, an Asian grocery chain, said many of her employees commute for an hour on a public bus, have multiple roommates or rent a couch rather than an entire room because housing costs in the region are very high. Whenever Moriguchi considers adding new stores, she considers the general affordability of the area and the availability of public transportation, in case she has trouble finding employees who live nearby.

Earlier this year, Moriguchi hired a new Georgian executive. As part of a relocation package, his company covered moving costs, airfare and other expenses to help make up for cost-of-living differences. In another case, when Moriguchi was recruiting for a different position, the recruiting firm she used said it would focus on potential candidates who already lived in high-cost locations.

“The search company we were working with said, ‘Yes, we’ll search locally and on the West Coast,'” Moriguchi said. “They tended not to focus as much on the Midwest because of the cost of living.”

Travel nursing has helped Sierra Levin live and work across the country, from California to Texas to Massachusetts. But while she was trying to establish a short-term agreement contract at a Newark hospital this year, she had more difficulty than usual finding accommodation. Levin said this is the first time she’s had trouble finding housing in her five years on the job.

Since travel nurses typically take contracts for a few months at a time, Levin was looking for a furnished month-to-month rental. She first looked in Jersey City, but was offered $2,000 minimum for a room in a group house. She ended up renting a room in a five-bedroom house in nearby Montclair for $1,700 — but closed that lease just three days before she began work.

“I don’t want more than one paycheck going toward rent,” Levin said. “It doesn’t make sense and it’s not sustainable.”

Carey Martin is co-founder of Custom Hiring Solutions, a national staffing company based in Phoenix that focuses on small businesses. Martin said she has seen the job market change a lot over the past 20 years.

But in just the last two years, housing is increasingly excluding candidates from the job search, even if they are looking for short-term rentals for temporary jobs.

Martin estimates that deals don’t work out more than half the time, largely because of housing issues. And even when they do, Martin said, she’s never seen so many professionals in mid-level management positions, making $60,000 or $75,000 a year, who still need roommates to make it work .

“We’ve had employers come to us and say, ‘At this point, we’ll do whatever it takes. If we have to pay for their temporary housing as a kind of bonus, we will find a unique solution like that,” Martin said. “These are aimed at management positions and executives. For staff, and even for middle management, deals usually fail.”

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