PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The higher cost of living driven by increased inflation rates has created quite the dilemma in the workforce.

Bay County Chamber of Commerce President Carol Roberts said businesses have been feeling the higher cost of operation.

“The current environment is certainly creating a burden for our business community,” Roberts said. “With the increase in materials, and supplies. Increase of hourly wages, insurance, the overhead is certainly becoming a strain on our local business community.”

National businesses like Verizon have responded to the current landscape and raised their starting wage to $20/hr.

In Panama City, Verizon is offering $2,500 to $3,500 sign-on bonuses.

“In addition to trying to attract the best talent, we also want to retain the best talent,” Verizon Communications Manager Chris Serico said. “We are always paying attention to what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the country, and what’s going on regionally. For all these reasons, that’s why we really want to focus on things that make our employees proud to be Verizon employees and stick around for the bulk of their careers.”

But Roberts said for some businesses, an increased wage is not enough.

“It’s not necessarily the attraction by the increase in salary,” Roberts said. “Businesses are looking for opportunities for example offering a four-day workweek or a work-from-home opportunity to try to get creative in attracting that new employee. The new workforce, I think, is looking for flexibility in their schedules because it’s mom and dads chasing after children.”

Roberts believes the higher pay rates and incentives could entice people who left the workforce during COVID-19 to go back to work.