Whirlpool CEO Sees Prolonged Labor Shortage

Whirlpool’s Bitzer shared his worker worries on CNBC.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The current labor crunch may continue long after COVID, according to the chairman/CEO of Whirlpool.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Mad Money” show with Jim Cramer, Whirlpool chief Marc Bitzer acknowledged that “I’m starting to get worried that the labor shortage starts becoming structural.”

Bitzer noted that Whirlpool has more than 20,000 U.S. employees who produce 80 percent of the products it sells domestically, making the manufacturer especially vulnerable to what AVB CEO Jim Ristow recently referred to as America’s “Great Resignation.”

Besides the immediate impact of the pandemic, show host Jim Cramer suggested that long-term factors like slowing population growth and tighter restrictions on immigration could extend the labor squeeze.

 AVB is addressing the worker rout with a comprehensive set of employee recruitment and retainment tools called HRSource, which was introduced at last August’s Convention21.

See: AVB Intros Sweeping HR Initiative

Bitzer said the limited labor pool, combined with transportation delays and chip and component shortages, will likely impact deliveries again in the fourth quarter, although he prefers the glass-is-half-full view. “Another way of looking at it is, why do we have availability challenges? Because demand is strong,” he told Kramer. “The demand is simply outstripping the supply … and that’s a positive signal.”

Bitzer appeared on the show following the release of Whirlpool’s third-quarter financial results, in which the company reported a 3.7 percent increase in net sales to $5.5 billion and a 20 percent hike in net earnings, to $471 million, for the three months ended Sept. 30. In North America, price increases helped boost net sales 4.9 percent to $3.1 billion (excluding the impact of currency fluctuations), while earnings before interest (EBIT) slipped 1.3 percent amid rising costs and inflation.