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Workers ‘Should Have The Power To Say No’ - Policy Makers ‘Should Not Ensure A Flood Of Low-Wage Workers For’ America’s Businesses

Published Friday, June 4, 2021
by Annie Lowrey/Staff Writer at The Atlantic
Workers ‘Should Have The Power To Say No’ - Policy Makers ‘Should Not Ensure A Flood Of Low-Wage Workers For’ America’s Businesses

Cities and towns are opening back up after their Coronavirus-induced shutdowns.

Job vacancies have surged to historic highs.

Millions of Americans report that they are looking for work.

Yet, employers are struggling to fill available positions, leaving them with no option but to shorten their business’s hours of operation and pay overtime.

But payroll growth has proved lackluster.

The familiar story about what’s happening goes like this:

America is in the midst of a Labor shortage.

Businesses are unable to find enough Workers, in no small part because of the country’s generous Unemployment Insurance payments and repeated stimulus checks.

This is a nightmare for growing companies, a trend that’s slowing the economic recovery, and a problem that policy must solve.

Workers are “dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” the Chamber of Commerce said, calling the situation a “very real threat” to the recovery.

In response, 23 states and counting have slashed Unemployment Insurance payments.

But what has rapidly become conventional wisdom is not necessarily wisdom at all.

The Labor shortage, so far as it exists, seems to have many complicated causes.

Even if benefits are among them, policy makers should not rush in to help ensure a flood of low-wage Workers for America’s businesses.

As the pandemic abates and the economy strengthens, why not focus on creating good ones?

The evidence of a Labor shortage comes both from hard numbers and from soft anecdotes.

In terms of the hard numbers: Lots of Americans want work.

Roughly 10 million Americans are looking for a job and the unemployment rate is an uncomfortably high 6.1%.

At the same time, lots of businesses want to hire.

Employers report that they have 8.1 million positions open, the largest number in recorded history.

Yet, the number of Americans taking a job remains subdued: Payrolls grew by just 266,000 in April, when many economists expected a number as high as two million.

In terms of the softer stuff: More and more business owners are complaining, loudly, that they cannot find people to work.

Restaurants are offering hiring bonuses to try to get potential Workers in the door, Uber and Lyft are desperate for Drivers, and Costco, McDonald’s, Sheetz, and Chipotle, along with many small businesses, have raised wages to attract Employees.

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