Goodyear CEO says extra employees than anticipated retired throughout Covid, including to labor challenges

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Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer told CNBC on Monday that the tire maker had retired a greater than expected number of U.S. workers during the coronavirus pandemic, which helps explain staffing issues at its manufacturing facilities.

“I think we all understood some of the Covid failures, but we saw early on that the pension level was much higher than traditional and certainly than expected,” said Kramer in an interview with “Mad Money”.

As a result of these retirements, the Akron, Ohio-based company now has more long-term staffing needs following the pandemic. Goodyear – with plants in a number of states including Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas – employs around 62,000 people worldwide for 2021, according to its proxy statement.

In its earnings report for the third quarter on Friday, Goodyear said production and manufacturing costs were negatively impacted by its ability to adequately staff facilities, even though the company surpassed Wall Street’s estimates of sales and earnings. Goodyear expects some of these cost headwinds to persist into next year, Kramer told CNBC.

“It’s very real. We are still struggling to find skilled workers,” said the CEO, who has held the position since 2010. “We have increased absenteeism and … as a result, we have accelerated the hiring process. We have a lot of training going on and of course that makes our factories a little less efficient and has a little higher cost.”

Goodyear is working to take steps to address the problem, Kramer said. “I hate to say it, but that will likely be with us by the time we get into the fourth quarter and into 2022. I think it’s a reality.”