How the Great Resignation hits Metro Ride, Wausau Hmong Festival
Metro Ride provided free shuttles to some events in the past; this year that won't happen as the service struggles to find bus drivers
The Wausau Hmong Festival is a big deal for both area Hmong residents, outside Hmong residents, and frankly anyone who cares about tourism dollars to city.
If you’ve been to the festival, you know what I’m talking about. Thousands of Hmong folks attend the event held at the soccer complex. It’s a major cultural occasion for the Hmong people, and it’s a pretty cool event for anyone to attend. You can watch teams play volleyball, flag football and soccer (and they’re usually a mix of Hmong and non-Hmong players), visit more than one hundred vendors selling Hmong clothing, toys and games and of course, some really wonderful food.
Getting there this year is going to be more difficult.
The city’s transit commission this year elected to not provide service to the Wausau Hmong Festival as it had in the past. And, it voted to rescind its offer to provide service to the Festival of the Arts.
Why? Transit Director Greg Seubert explained it plainly: Not enough drivers. Seubert told the commission that Metro Ride is now short 1/3 of its driver positions.
It’s not a new problem, of course. Not only has this been a persistent problem for Metro Ride, but all of city hall and other government has struggled with finding and keeping talent. And, of course, so have all levels of government. And, so has the private sector.
The phenomena is being called The Great Resignation, though it might also be called the Great Retirement. It’s not just that people are quitting jobs in droves — they are of course — but it’s also a matter of low birth rates.
Of course, all this was supposed to happen around 2010 since birth rates have been falling for some time, coinciding with baby boomer generation workers starting to retire. The Great Recession of 07-09 pushed that back as employers cut jobs and stopped growing their workforce for awhile.
But what will that mean for events that rely on that public transportation?