By Ray Cardello for September 8, 2021 Season 3 / Post 36
Can you name one industry, local store, restaurant, or even coffee spot not impacted by a worker shortage? Everywhere you go, signs looking for help are taking the space where promotions used to be advertised. Walk up to a hostess station, and you see handmade signs apologizing for the lousy service level before you even sit down. Drive up to your favorite pub only to learn that they are closed and have cut back their hours because they cannot adequately staff their establishment. Where did everyone go? Does no one want to work any longer, or did COVID birth a new era of laziness and dependence on the public dole? I hope that is not the case.
I live on the Seacoast in New Hampshire. The population in this region explodes from Memorial Day until Labor Day as the beaches, mountains, and resorts welcome visitors from other states. From diners to hotels, many businesses rely on young people from foreign lands who come to America for the summer to earn money for school. With restricted travel, those students from Europe were not here to help out. Many colleges relying on remote learning are not seeing their dorms filled, and these students are no longer part-time workers to fill the staffing void.
Many point to the Federal subsidy to unemployment that pays people more to stay home than to work. That excuse doesn’t hold water here in New Hampshire as unemployment payments are menial, and New Hampshire stopped participating in the Federal program months ago. So there are a few reasons for the help shortage in my region, but what about elsewhere. This employment shortage is a national problem, and though there are ways to micro-analyze, someone needs to grasp a more broad-based remedy. COVID did its best to eliminate small businesses, and now a scarce workforce is taking its turn at whacking local companies.
The employment numbers last week were dismal.
The survey of establishments showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs last month, the smallest gain since January. Data for July was revised up to show a whopping 1.053 million jobs created instead of the previously reported 943,000.
Hiring in June was also stronger than initially estimated, leaving average monthly job growth over the past three months at a strong 750,000. Employment is 5.3 million jobs below its peak in February 2020. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast nonfarm payrolls increasing by 728,000 jobs in August.
That report indicates that the estimate fell short by nearly a half-million people. We have created a culture where work is no longer honorable but for the other guy. As long as the checks keep coming, the unemployed will be comfortable staying unemployed. Maybe it is time to take a favorite line of the left and flip it. Let’s take “make them pay their fair share” to “make the unemployed get a job.” No more incentives. No more checks unless it is compensation for hours worked.
This new trend will have tremendous ripple effects on every facet of our economy. Small businesses still drive the workforce. And as if COVID and its myriad of rules weren’t bad enough, they now are looking at the reality of shuttering due to the inability to staff their needs. The inability for businesses to serve the public or produce goods will exacerbate inflation that is already hitting our wallets. Excess money in the marketplace chasing too few products and services is the definition of inflation.
I have no solution. The problem of too few people willing to roll up their sleeves and do their fair share is too complex for a simple blog post. This challenge is cultural and will take time to identify and correct the values and habits of a generation. But some brilliant folks better get to work on finding a solution instead of everyone wringing their hands and tolerating poor service and inadequate inventories.
Maybe it’s time to take the focus off Critical Race Theory, inclusion, equity, and all the other buzz words of the woke. Perhaps we need to start focusing on getting people off their butts, out of Mom and Dad’s basement, and off to work. I am not mocking the severity of this issue. I do contend that the lack of workers is connected to the Woke Movement and a growing attitude that capitalism is evil. Heck, even this country is evil, so why bother putting in the effort. Ironically, the woke generation that openly dislikes this country and its values constantly has its hand out for what it can get for free. Let’s forget the handout and give them a job.