Labor shortages could cause delays in clearing North Carolina roads after weekend’s winter storm, the state says

Labor shortages could mean North Carolina road crews won’t be able to clear roads of snow and ice as fast as usual if a winter storm hits the state this weekend, the governor’s office said.

The storm is expected to drop a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain across parts of the state Saturday night into Sunday.

Road crews across the state are shorthanded, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said.

“(North Carolina Department of Transportation) crews and contractor resources will work to clear roads as fast as possible, but response times are expected to be slower than previous storms due to labor shortages impacting crews spread around the state,” a statement from Cooper’s office said.

Transportation department workers started spreading brine on roads Thursday, a job expected to finish Friday, Cooper’s office said.

Cooper signed an emergency declaration Thursday evening to release state resources to prepare for the potential storm.

The governor’s office is urging people to stay off roads if conditions deteriorate, and to reduce speed if they must travel.

The country as a whole has been dealing with labor shortages for months.

The labor force participation rate shrank during the pandemic, for reasons including child care challenges and concerns about the virus. Also, many who were initially forced out of the workforce in furloughs and layoffs have taken early retirements.

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