Australia is in the grip of a chronic worker shortage. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says there are 470,900 unfilled jobs. Concretely, a visit to the town of Griffith tells you everything you need to know about Australia's worker shortage crisis. Peter Ceccato, general manager of the Super Seasons orchard near Griffith, is watching most of this year's crop rot due to a lack of pickers. There should have been 200 workers at the vast orchard, picking fruit from its half-a-million citrus trees, but Ceccato could muster only 20.
The award wage for fruit picking is $26.73 an hour, but Mr. Ceccato pays his workers $29. He says he couldn't find more workers even when he offered $45 an hour.
Ceccato says the worker crisis is even affecting the mental health of the region's growers and his own. "It gets worse each day as we see more and more fruit that drops down. I find it difficult to get up in the mornings. I find it very difficult to sleep at night because you're constantly thinking, 'what can I do? How can I try and resolve this issue, not only for this year but for next year?' You start spiraling downwards into depression."