Why Is It So Hard to Find a Car Mechanic in Seattle?

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Unless you buy or lease a new car every couple of years, you’ll definitely need the service of a car mechanic on occasion. Even the highest-end, most expensive cars eventually have issues that need to be repaired by a professional.
Traditionally, it hasn’t been hard to find a mechanic, with several auto shops located in many cities and towns across America. More recently, though, it’s been difficult for drivers to find a car mechanic when a vehicle needs repairs or maintenance.
As with many industries during the pandemic, there has been a lack of work when unemployment benefits have been so high.
It has been particularly hard for people to get timely car repairs in Seattle. Here’s why.
A wide view of Seattle, Washington between close trees at sunset.
Unemployment benefits have caused a labor shortage in the mechanic industry.

Seattle residents are having difficulty finding car mechanics

Ohio News Time reported that during the height of the pandemic, demand for repairs went down. Now, Seattle residents are still having a hard time finding a car mechanic.
As people have returned to driving and traveling more frequently, the extra miles put on vehicles are pushing demand for car mechanics to rebound back to pre-pandemic levels.
While demand for repairs is recovering, there is a shortage of staff to perform the repairs. Many garages have limited staff on hand and have been forced to delay work or send customers to other shops.
One Seattle auto shop manager has had to turn away about $40,000 worth of business each month due to recent staff shortages.

Auto shops are trying to steal talent from competitors

Some garage owners have added 300 weeks to Washington state’s regular unemployment benefits. This is due to delays in the employment market recovering in the wake of pandemic-related layoffs.
These enhanced benefits have kept mechanics, especially entry-level workers, from seeking work. That has been a national problem, but locally in Seattle, the city’s infamous housing market is also a factor in car mechanics choosing unemployment over jobs.
To solve the shortage, some shop owners are trying to poach talent from rival shops. One shop owner says that someone may drive down the street from their own shop to “talk to one of the technicians” at a competing company.
Some shop owners are offering mechanics salaries of up to $100,000. Owners know that without the proper staffing levels, they will routinely have to turn away customers.

Do people still want to become car mechanics?

Even before COVID-19, a long-standing cause of staffing shortages was due to fewer people wanting to work on cars. This could be caused by many high schools no longer offering car shop classes.
With high-paying “knowledge” jobs becoming more prevalent, especially in a place like Seattle, being a car mechanic isn’t considered a “good” job nowadays.
You need technical know-how and problem-solving skills to work on cars, and people with those skills are increasingly choosing high-paying, high-level engineering or programming jobs over car repair.
Mechanic work is “a burden to the body,” according to shop owner Jerry Barkley, so people are choosing the less physically stressful white-collar work.
With it being more difficult to find mechanics to work on cars in a timely manner, having good car insurance may be more important now than it has ever been. But you still shouldn’t have to overpay on your insurance. Jerry can help you find cheap car insurance to protect your vehicle when things go wrong.

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