Where are all the workers?

Are we too lazy, too picky or too scared to work?

The ‘great resignation’ is a term I have heard thrown around a lot this last month or so. Every business owner I have talked to at my job are talking about staffing and how desperately every business needs workers. 

I believe that anyone with any type of qualification could get virtually any job they want right now. The world is your oyster. And yet, here we are, no applications in sight. So why is that? What has so many employees retiring, and young people unwilling to work?

More than anything, I think we are seeing a shift in the dynamic between the employer and the employee. Some businesses are so understaffed that negotiating for a better salary, better hours or better benefits has never been easier. 

People are tired of working full-time without benefits and they want a livable wage. I think the pandemic is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. For years people have been talking about how minimum wage jobs that are essential to society as we have designed it, are our most underpaid people. 

Think grocery store clerks, janitors, teachers: all of these people either barely, if at all, making a livable wage. And as a result, these people are done with it. They are quitting, and seeking out better jobs. 

Furthermore, America is not a country that pushes people to work. Currently, the government is dishing out money for unemployment. Yesterday the IRS sent out an additional $500 million to unemployed families. Add that to the money that has been given to people via stimulus checks and other government benefits, some can get by without working. 

Another factor that contributes to this is very obviously the pandemic; parents had to stay home to look after their children when daycares shut down. And sometimes, parents pay the majority of their checks on childcare so they can go to work. 

There is no singular thing to attribute the great resignation to.

It looms over many peoples’ heads that variants of the Covid-19 virus could cause another lockdown, especially in heavily populated areas of the country. Institutions like hospitals and other businesses now have vaccination requirements for employees. 

Unfortunately, people are choosing to resign as a result leading to even more understaffing. So which is it? Are people lazy? Is the government giving out too much money? Are employers starting to treat their employees better? 

There is no singular thing to attribute the great resignation to. It’s far more likely that it’s a combination of all of those factors. 

I know through my personal experience, businesses are doing everything and anything to get people on the floor. A few weeks ago, I got a small raise from one of my jobs for no other reason than they just wanted to show me I am appreciated.

People are trickling back into the workforce. Multiple sources reported that over 6.7 million people were hired in June. The Barrons reported, “Recent months have seen reports of wage increases for hourly retail workers and perks for new hires including tuition or hiring bonuses; when it’s a seller’s market like it is now for workers, they have more power to demand or expect higher remuneration.”

There are negative side effects to a market stuck without workers to keep in mind as well. Many stores are having trouble getting their shelves stocked because there is a lack of employees to stock shelves, as well as a lack of factory workers to make a product. Meaning, that even when the stores do order items, they aren’t even able to get half of what they ordered. 

As a consumer, there are fewer items for you to purchase as a result of poor staffing. 

It goes without saying, if the labor market doesn’t bounce back, if the unemployed don’t head back to work, the economy overall is going to suffer. 

Employers need to treat their employees better, the government needs to get a hold of a budget, childcare needs to be more accessible and people need to get vaccinated.

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