DENVER (CBS4) – Across Colorado, companies in various industries are struggling to fill positions. Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment says the data does not indicate a labor shortage.

In a recent survey, the Colorado Restaurant Association found 92% of restaurants are having trouble hiring. Denver’s Early Childhood Council says there is a demand for childcare, but not enough employees are returning to work at childcare facilities.

It’s a similar story at rural hospitals in Colorado, where care levels are slowly returning to normal.

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“Where we are now it kind of ebbs and flows up and down depending on the month or season,” said David Engel, CEO of the Southeast Colorado Hospital District.

Engel says staffing is an issue in many hospitals.

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“We are seriously low on staff, we mention any area whether it’s environmental services, whether it’s nursing lab X-ray therapy, all of our areas we need people,” he said.

In eastern Colorado, Lincoln Community Hospital and Care Center was able to maintain their nursing staff, but the facility as a whole still needs help.

“I think there was a population excited to get back to work, but I still think there’s a population that is hesitant. Community wide, we are seeing a deficit in the workforce coming back,” said Nursing Director Rachel Smith.

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Engel and Smith say funding during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped maintain operations, but uncertainty about whether some of it will need to be paid back has ignited a bigger discussion about the need for continued support for Colorado’s rural areas.

“We are the only supporter of medicine in the majority of our communities. Anytime we get the opportunity to have access to additional funding and absorb that is a huge benefit,” Smith said.

Engel, echoed her statement saying, “We are the lifeblood for the rural areas.”

To become more competitive, some of hospitals offered signing bonuses or began recruiting internationally, but even that is limited, when the majority operate on very low revenue margins.

Karen Morfitt