In the pandemic’s aftermath, one unforeseen circumstance is that many businesses are struggling to find workers. Whether people are still worried about Covid-19, forced to stay home to care for people, or do not have the skills they need for certain jobs, many industries such as construction and food service are having trouble filling jobs.
How the Recovery Looks?
There are some bright spots in the current economic recovery, but not every sector of the workforce is experiencing the same thing. Although there are more jobs available than there were when the pandemic hit in March 2020, there are fewer workers filling those roles. The construction, manufacturing, and restaurant industries are definitely hurting. And the shortage in workers is tipping the already wavering economy.
“It’s a little shocking we’re at this point already, said Steve Lucas, chief executive of iCIMS Inc, cloud-based recruiting platform with 4000 large firms, “Businesses are champing at the bit to grow and are moving faster than applicants are willing to move,”
Shockingly, USA Today reported that there are a plethora of people who have been unemployed for over six months. “Since December, 4 million people or more have been among the long-term unemployed.” There are many reasons for that, and the country needs to solve the puzzle of matching open jobs with eligible workers.
Despite the grim news about long-term unemployment, there are some positives recently that show the country might be close to a more widespread improvement. U.S.A. Today reported “The GDP grew by a robust 6.4% in the first quarter, retail sales jumped almost 10% in March and the S&P 500 has notched multiple record highs since August.” Though these numbers do not tell the whole story, they do seem to hint at a positive trajectory.
Where do the Problems Lie?
Why are there so many jobs available? The reasons are as many as the people. Some people don’t have childcare, and some are still worried about Covid-19. Still others don’t have the training they need to get hired for the jobs available. Additionally, the stimulus package is enticing people to stay home. If the jobs are to be filled, careful attention needs to be paid to each of these questions.
The stimulus package from the Biden administration includes $300 in additional unemployment benefits through September 6. This is both a blessing and a curse. “We began to see that some employees were in a position where they were literally making four, five sometimes $6 an hour more on UI (unemployment insurance) with the pandemic bonus,” said Toby Malara, government affairs counsel at the American Staffing Association. “It did not make sense for them to go back to work.”
Along with the stimulus package, one challenge for working parents is that many school districts have not opened back up yet. Only 60% of the 200 largest U.S. school districts were fully reopened by the end of April, which severely affected women’s ability to work.
How Can the Country Get There?
There are several solutions in the work to help the sluggish economy. The companies themselves are trying to right the ship, as well as the federal government.
For instance, some companies are holding back business and not making new bids on jobs, in hopes that a purposeful slow down will eventually even things out. Increasing wages for workers will help to lure people to the workforce, despite the stimulus handouts, and some companies are upping the ante. Costco minimum wage is now $16 an hour, and Amazon and Target are $15, respectively.
As for the federal government, the Biden administration is trying to help those who cannot work because they are caring for someone. “The $2.3 trillion plan unveiled two weeks ago included $400 billion toward home and community care for the elderly and disabled.” Whether caring for children who are not back in school, or stuck in the sandwich generation caring for aging relatives, these infrastructure additions may help people get back on the job. Additionally, the extra stimulus benefits will run out in September, which should push more people back into the workforce.
The perfect storm that has blown through the economic world this year has many angles that need to be addressed. With school districts that are still shuttered, and a stimulus package that is enticing people to stay home, many companies are begging for employees. Hopefully, in the coming months the situation will even out, and the economy will be back full steam.