There are 10 million job openings, yet more than 8.4 million unemployed are still actively looking for work. There’s a big mismatch at the moment between the jobs available and what workers want. https://t.co/9rdIjHaq5A
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 4, 2021
Mysteriously, it turns out that human workers are not interchangeable widgets, little biological lego bricks:
… The job market looks, in some ways, like a boom-time situation. Business owners complain they can’t find enough workers, pay is rising rapidly, and customers are greeted with “please be patient, we’re short-staffed” signs at many stores and restaurants.
But the nation remains in the midst of a deadly pandemic with covid-19 hospitalizations back at their highest rates since January. The surge is weighing on the labor market again, with a mere 235,000 jobs added in August. There are still 5 million fewer jobs compared to before the pandemic, reflecting ongoing problems, including child care as some schools and day cares shut down again from outbreaks…
At heart, there is a massive reallocation underway in the economy that’s triggering a “Great Reassessment” of work in America from both the employer and employee perspectives. Workers are shifting where they want to work — and how. For some, this is a personal choice. The pandemic and all of the anxieties, lockdowns and time at home have changed people. Some want to work remotely forever. Others want to spend more time with family. And others want a more flexible or more meaningful career path. It’s the “you only live once” mentality on steroids. Meanwhile, companies are beefing up automation and redoing entire supply chains and office setups.
The reassessment is playing out in all facets of the labor market this year, as people make very different decisions about work than they did pre-pandemic. Resignations are the highest on record — up 13 percent over pre-pandemic levels. There are 4.9 million more people who aren’t working or looking for work than there were before the pandemic. There’s a surge in retirements with 3.6 million people retiring during the pandemic, or more than 2 million more than expected. And there’s been a boost in entrepreneurship that has caused the biggest jump in years in new business applications…
There is a fundamental mismatch between what industries have the most job openings now and how many unemployed people used to work in that industry pre-pandemic. For example, there are 1.8 million job openings in professional and business services and fewer than 925,000 people whose most recent job was in that sector. Leisure and hospitality, as well as retail and wholesale trade, also have more openings than prior workers, and many workers who lost jobs in those industries have indicated they don’t want to return.
There’s a similar mismatch in education and health services, where there are 1.7 million job openings and only 1.1 million people whose last job was in that sector…
Nationwide, most industries have more job openings than people with prior experience in that sector, Labor Department data show. That’s a very different situation than after the Great Recession, when the number of unemployed far outstripped jobs available in every sector for years. To find enough workers, companies may need to train workers and entice people to switch careers, a process which generally takes longer, especially in fields that require special licenses…
This thread (read the whole thing!) is… illuminating. And terrifying:
A brief thread on this, using my own place of employment (a restaurant in a fancy hotel, part of a multi-billion dollar hotel group) as a case study.
Currently we’re only open 4 days a week because we’re short-staffed. Why are we short-staffed? Well… https://t.co/oNrK1NrVX4
— Hemry, Local Bartender (@BartenderHemry) September 4, 2021
But the policy is good, in theory. In practice, they've chosen to implement it by…forcing the few people who do still live here after a year and a half to *reapply for their jobs and pass a full background check.* Which takes weeks, during which time many people find a new job!
— Hemry, Local Bartender (@BartenderHemry) September 4, 2021
I hate to push two paywalled articles in one post, but Maahdy is a good interview:
“We have this unique opportunity to make some major changes in the workforce and come back STRONGER.” ?
— The Building Trades (@NABTU) September 1, 2021
… You’re leading the Department of Labor at a major inflection point for the country, with people getting back to work after so many lost jobs during the pandemic — and with the way we work potentially reshaped by the experience. What do you see as the opportunities or as your central mandate in this moment?
This is such a huge opportunity to do things right this time. Whatever the number on the infrastructure plan, it can be transformative for working people. So I view it as an opportunity for us to tackle the toughest issues that, quite honestly, maybe we haven’t tackled directly head-on as an administration. To tackle inequity in the workplace. To tackle wage disparity between women and men. To tackle racial inequities in the workplace and create better pathways.
I’m still kind of figuring out: How much I can push and where I can push and how much we can move forward? The beauty is that I have a president and a vice president who really believe in the mission of the Department of Labor. We have this unique opportunity in front of us to make some major changes in the workforce and to come back stronger. I think you get that opportunity once in a political career or once in a generation. And this is the time.
We’re also at a point where income inequity is at its highest. But during the pandemic, there was a huge reliance on essential workers. Do you think that has changed public opinion, making the ground fertile for revaluing labor?
I hope it does. But I don’t think it’s going to happen unless we stay focused on it. People have short attention spans. Throughout the last year, grocery store workers have been essential workers and almost first responders, if you will, in keeping the shelves stocked and the food there. And then you hear stories of some of these larger chain companies around the country subbing out now and getting independent contractors to deliver the food and deliver the service. Like, how do you do that to a group of employees that kept your doors open through the most difficult time, maybe since the beginning of your store? So I think we have to keep a real focus on our workers. I think we should always raise up our essential workers because, at the end of the day, whether it’s a global pandemic or a blizzard or nor’easter or a hurricane, they’re there. They’re there the day before the hurricane, and they’re there the day after hurricane. They’re always there…
‘Employers’ have promised / threatened us with AUTOMATIC ROBOT WORKERS since, well, about the time the word was introduced to English speakers…
During the pandemic, labor shortages pushed some employers to try out robots in service jobs once considered impossible to automate. They should create more jobs, but could also leave low-skilled workers behind, by @mattoyeah and @paulwisemanAP https://t.co/QG3uXLn1j3
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 5, 2021