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N4T Investigators: Supply chain drain

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Do you want to paint your house or just eat some chicken? Well, good luck because shortages have been making these things harder to find. They could end up impacting you for months to years. 

"We've got shortages of corn and soy... that's what goes into animal feed so that's increasing the cost of proteins,” Josh Jacobson owner of Lucky Wishbone and a Tucson food manufacturing company said. 

His bread and butter is chicken. 

"We're seeing increases of 70 percent and greater," Jacobson said. 

He said he hasn't raised prices, "but that's probably coming because everything has just gotten so expensive that you get to a point where you can only absorb so much, and then you have to pass it on." 

"We messed up when we were planning to forecast the impact of Coronavirus on our industries,” Hitendra Chaturvedi, an Arizona State University (ASU) Supply Chain Management Professor told the News 4 Tucson Investigators. 

He said factories like meat processing plants closed. 

"It is about people not there to work and that's causing chicken shortages,” Chaturvedi said. 

The demand for ketchup packets shot up as more people ordered in, but at the store, bottles have been easy to find. 

The lumber, rental cars and microchip industries have also been running behind. 

Dale Rogers, an ASU Supply Chain Management Professor said your car, TV, fridge and practically everything needs a microchip. 

 "It's going to be at least two years and I would say likely more [until chip supply goes back to normal],” Rogers said. 

COVID-19, labor shortages and weather have all been to blame. 

"Due to some of the ice storms that happened in Texas a few months ago, production and plants were basically shut down for a while,” Doug Caris, an owner of Arizona Painting Company said. 

 "A lot of the lower end and even mid-grade paints have just had a huge shortage and you just can't get them right now,” Caris said. 

AAA said this Memorial Day has the highest gas prices in seven years, coming from a combination of things, including more travel and stricter energy regulations. 

Chaturvedi said he expects it to be another three to four months until supply catches up with demand. 

"We simply don't have enough people filling the jobs that we need,” Jacobson said. 

Despite this, unemployment rose more than 6 percent in April, while the federal government continued to send out stimulus checks. 

In Arizona, the governor stopped taking federal pandemic unemployment money. Instead, he said he is giving out one-time bonuses to people headed back to work which is good news for smaller employers like Jacobson. 

"I physically cannot compete to issue paychecks against the government,” Jacobson said. 

He said if you are thinking about going back to work you should do it now because employers have been forced to figure out how to work with less and use automation. If you wait too long, traditional jobs could be gone.  

Have a story you'd like us to look into? Email investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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