Why The US Has More Job Openings Than Ever Before

Lyle Solomon

Lyle Solomon is a licensed attorney in California. He has been affiliated with the law firms in California, Nevada, and Arizona since 1991, and is the principal attorney of Oak View Law Group.

Related Post Roulette

85 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t think you can stress enough the impact of bad management. If orgs were smart, they’d look at which managers had people flee and start talking to those former employees to see if the manager was bad (or just unlucky).Report

    • Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      And Bad management contributes to low wages, lack of benefits and feeling unsafe. Its a multi-pronged sword.Report

      • Chris in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        I feel like there used to be workers groups that pushed for these things, but were systematically undermined by governments at every level.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          There was, but then some of them forgot how negotiations work and decided to throw gigantic temper tantrums whenever they didn’t get everything on their Christmas list, which undermined public support for them, which encouraged/allowed governments to undermine them legally.

          We really need to stop pretending unions didn’t have a hand in their own decline.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        One could blame this on corporate culture, but the public sector is no better at identifying and removing bad managers. So it’s just the fact that our leadership culture sucks at (read, refuses to) policing it’s own.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      This is the great unspoken scandal of the past ten-fifteen years, if not longer. I had my fair share of questionable managers along the way but some of the stuff my sons have been through since they entered the workforce is just appalling (think: being expected to be “on call” all winter long with no pay just in the hopes of being able to come in for an hour of work a couple times a week, or wild fluctuations between zero hour work weeks and 60/80 hours, and this was not just one job, but several different employers along the way.)

      While I don’t like to see good businesses struggling, some places have definitely reaped what they sowed with this.Report

  2. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    In my industry (IT), the joke is that the only way to get a raise is to quit and work somewhere else.

    This joke would be less funny if there weren’t so many people quitting, working somewhere else, and getting 10%-20% raises in doing so.Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Quitting for a raise is somewhat acceptable. But, in this situation, people are quitting jobs just to save themselves. We thought that the pandemic has somewhat slowed down. But, again the count is increasing in some states. It will be great if employees can join a good job as per their experience, get a good raise, and do work from home for a few more days.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Lyle Solomon
        Ignored
        says:

        Things are tough all over. I’ve no doubt that the people who hire the so-called “unskilled” essential workers are trying everything to get new talent to work for them (short of offering more money, more time off, and more bennies) but that’s going on at the so-called “skilled” workers as well.

        Everybody seems to be hiring at all levels. (It kinda reminds me of the late 90’s, a little.)Report

        • Lyle Solomon in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          According to a PwC poll of 1,007 full- and part-time U.S. workers conducted in August, 65 percent of employees are looking for a new job right now. This is nearly double the 35 percent of workers who stated they were looking for new jobs in May. According to the PwC analysis, the current labor market may provide an opportunity for underpaid and disenfranchised workers to close pay discrepancies. Women (46 percent) are more likely than males (34 percent) to say they’re looking for a new job because they desire a better salary. Regarding race and ethnicity, 82 percent of Hispanic and 67 percent of Black workers want a new job with better compensation, compared to 57 percent of white, non-Hispanic workers.

          So, I believe it will be challenging to balance this demand and supply at this time, given that we are still dealing with the Pandemic!Report

  3. Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    Just in the month of April 2021, over 4 million people decided to resign from their employer.

    To put this in context, the monthly non-farm quits rate just before the pandemic was 2.3%; in April it was 2.8%. That’s the highest level since the BLS started collecting JQLTS data in 2000, but the quits rate has been over 2% since the beginning of 2016. This also doesn’t really address the question of why quits are up. Possibly it’s just because quits were very low during the first half of the pandemic, and there’s a backlog of people who have been waiting for a good time to quit.

    Jobs aren’t paying fair wages

    In what sense are they unfair? The fact that they’re not competitive with greatly inflated unemployment benefits says as much about the benefits as about the wages. The fact that minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to “afford” housing (which is a claim that relies on some dubious assumptions) has more to do with housing supply than wages. As long as supply is constrained by arbitrary political factors, the price will rise high enough to price some people out. Raising the minimum wage will just push up the price of housing more.

    Ultimately, if you don’t think you’re being paid a fair wage, you should get a higher-paying job. If you can’t find one, your current wage is probably fair.

    Upwork conducted a study that found 36% of the workforce is now freelancing

    According to the slide deck for the report, this is basically unchanged since before the pandemic. It’s been 34% or higher since 2014, at first hit 36% in 2017. Also, this report was published in September 2020.

    Remember that you can’t explain a change with a constant. Unless real retail wages have fallen recently, it doesn’t make sense to explain a spike in retail job openings with low wages. Unless management has gotten worse in the past year and a half, you can’t explain it with poor management.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      For me, all of this suggests that a UBI is ripe, with one caveat – we can’t really do a UBI until our housing supply issue is fixed. I mean, I’d like to say we could just ship unemployed people to some place with lots of vacancies, but that’s not how things work. I will say that we do need to be very careful about expanding housing in some places, like anywhere that currently depends on the CO river should NOT be expanding housing supply, until they get the water issue resolved.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        To me, this demonstrates why a UBI would be economically disastrous.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          Only if the housing issue continues as is. Housing is the bulk of the expenses for the lower quintile(s), and as long as the supply is so constrained, any entitlement will just be rapidly consumed by the cost of housing. If that’s the case, then yes, a UBI would be disastrous.

          The conceit I think people who lean right need to get over is this idea that people who work the low wage jobs only work because they need a place to live and money for food, and that if they didn’t have to worry about that, they would devolve into a hedonistic lifestyle of laziness and drugs, etc.

          And yeah, some of them would.

          But I think most people would still hold down a job. What they wouldn’t do is tolerate a crap job because quitting would put them on the street. IMHO, a big part of the reason we have such a glut of really bad management in the US (especially for lower wage jobs) is that such managers aren’t showing the kind of churn that would make higher level management wince, and that’s because a lot of those jobs pay subsistence level wages, so people are stuck.

          As is often said, people will quit a boss long before they will quit a job.

          So I disagree, I don’t think a UBI, on it’s own, would be economically disastrous, unless our economy is so dependent upon being able to pay people low wages (and let’s be honest, if people have a UBI, they might tolerate lower wages).

          But a UBI in a crazy tight housing market would just become a straight up transfer of money from the government to landlords.Report

          • Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            But a UBI in a crazy tight housing market would just become a straight up transfer of money from the government to landlords.

            Don’t we have a current example of how that doesn’t work so well?Report

          • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            But right now we’re in a situation where government is providing aid to people who aren’t working even though there are millions of job openings. This isn’t speculative any more. We’re in the middle of it. People who could work are choosing not to. They’re able to do so because of government support. You can’t say that people would hold down jobs when there are countless job openings and unemployed people aren’t filling them.

            This is like definitional. You seem to be pointing at a real-time photo and saying “this could never happen”. Am I missing something?Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky
              Ignored
              says:

              Let’s see… is there some larger event that could explain why people are hesitant to return to jobs that have low wages and involve a great deal of in-person contact with the public?

              I mean, Occam would like a word with you.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Where are these low-paying jobs you’re talking about? I haven’t seen ads for them. And considering job vacancies are being reported in every non-farm private industry, are you telling me that there isn’t a single low-contact job out there that’s unfilled?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                I have seen them. I just came back from a vacation where all the restaurants, bars, hotels, and tourist-oriented retail are reducing hours because they can’t get enough staff at jobs paying, for the most part, under $15/hour.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                As to covid, sure, it’s messing with the levels of supply and demand, but it’s not invalidating the laws of supply and demand. That’s the thing about Occam; he’s willing to have a word with you, but only when necessary. He’s looking at the labor market functioning exactly as it always does, and he’s got nothing to add. Government aid lovers the marginal value of supplying labor, so it’s going to diminish the supply of labor.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                Its funny how the government subsidizing a higher wage is seen as somehow axiomatically a bad thing, when we have nearly a century of government subsidizing farmers’ incomes, and no one cares.

                “B-but if government gives them money, farmers won’t want to plant as many crops!! The result will be chaos, mass panic, dogs and cats living together!”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                It may have been subsidizing the incomes of the farmers for a while there following the food shortages of the 70’s, but now it’s subsidizing Big Agriculture (which donates a *LOT* more than the farmers did).Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                the government subsidizing a higher wage is seen as somehow axiomatically a bad thing, when we have nearly a century of government subsidizing farmers’ incomes, and no one cares.

                I think I’ve mentioned I’m opposed to farm subsidies as we do them, certain for how we’ve handled corn. They are a bad thing, they’re also small in the context of the GDP. Agriculture’s entire share of the overall U.S. economy is 0.6%. Farmers is a sub-fraction of that.

                Saying if you have the money to buy an ice cream cone you clearly have the money to buy a house outright is an obvious non sequitur.

                In 2017 we spent $4 Billion on Farm subsidies. Trump increased that to 20 because of the damage caused by his trade war.

                With that kind of money we could raise worker wages to the tune of +$20 to +$133 (assuming 150 million workers).

                There are 128.86 million workers in the US (I was wrong about the 150). Giving everyone a $1000 raise is thus $128 Billion.

                Presumably you’d want to increase those numbers and direct them just at min wage workers, but that would shaft everyone making just a little more than the min wage. Business would presumably respond by paying everyone less.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                What we should have is a regressive tax on employment (instead of a progressive one). The more you pay your employees, they less you have to contribute to SS/Medicare/etc.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Once again, its weird how an increase in wages- whether by government fiat, labor shortage, or labor unions- is portrayed as some bizarre hypothetical instead of something that has happened many times, for which we have a century of empirical data.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Wait, wages are increasing? Import some more “unskilled labor”! That will release the pressure valve.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I was responding to your suggestion that the gov should support wages like we do farmers.

                There are other ways to increase wages. The best methods are full employment where employers compete for workers and/or “the market demands it”.

                If we’re talking about “government fiat” then the market will respond appropriately. That can mean workers are priced out of their jobs, which is the opposite of “full employment”.

                However, what problem are we trying to solve here? The before-covid economy was close to full employment and there are tons of jobs available right now. Wages were rising before and employers are under a lot of pressure to raise them now.

                We have issues with positional goods. We have issues with NIMBY’s turning housing into a positional good. Positional goods can’t be fixed by paying people more.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                So the first question is, how many of the jobs that need to be filled are jobs that require a great deal of in-person contact with either the public, or co-workers? My wife’s employer announced a few weeks ago that everyone was expected back in the office by the end of October. They then had a wave of resignations of people who have been working from home. Now, return to office is pushed back to January or later, to stop the bleeding.

                These were not public facing positions, just office workers. And I live in an area with exceptionally high vaccination rates.

                So when I see people holding off going back to work, I don’t see laziness, I see fear. They don’t want to risk Covid, either because they don’t want to get sick (even if you are vaccinated, it’s still no fun), or because they live with someone who can not be vaccinated (kids under 12 is a pretty big demographic).

                My prediction, as more and more employers lay down the vaccine mandate, AND once the vaccine is approved for younger kids, you’ll see more people returning to work.

                That said, I also predict we will have a lot of people who have figured out they don’t need to work to make ends meet, and who just won’t quickly return to the labor force. They’ll take their time and find a good job for themselves, rather than simply finding any job.

                Two other things:

                I do wonder if there is any data on how many applications/resumes are being submitted for any given job posting, versus interviews / offers made / accepted. I.e. are people looking for work and simply being very picky, or are job postings getting zero attention?

                Second, I know at my employer, and my wife’s, recruiting is exceptionally difficult. The HR offices that do recruiting are quite literally gutted. We’ve had a job posted for months, it’s a remote work developer position, open in Europe and the US, and we couldn’t fill it, because our recruiting service was so swamped they just couldn’t do anything except post it. My wife’s office lost 40% of their recruiting staff.

                So there are a lot of factors at play.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I overheard someone in management yelling about the work-from-home people. He was doubting that they were actually doing the jobs that they were saying that they were doing from home (and, I’ll grant, some of the descriptions of what they were doing were things that *I* would have needed to come into the office to do, if they were my job).

                But a *HUGE* amount of work done at work is… let’s call it “padded”. It’s walking around and having conversations. It’s meetings where you’re going around the table and listening to why cybersecurity is butting heads with networking over the issue of the firmware on the routers. “Why am I in this meeting?”, you may find yourself asking yourself.

                I imagine that there are a lot of jobs out there where Keynes was right. There is a 15 hour work week! Finally! That work is just surrounded by 25 hours of padding.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                My daughter’s company has been doing 32 hour weeks all summer.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                There is value to being around your team. You learn tribal lore that way. I moved because of this issue.

                Half of all lunch room conversations are worthless, the other half are us talking about work adventures.

                IT has decided it takes 20 weeks to order a monitor, that’s useful to know.

                I’ve done “work from home” and I’ve done “joint office” in that order with the same group of guys and the later was far more useful to me than the former. Work from home is long term stagnation.Report

              • Lyle Solomon in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree. More than themselves, the employees might be worried about their family members, too, who are not vaccinated, or simply worry about keeping everyone healthy. Working from home is also strenuous as often employees have to struggle to maintain a work-life balance.Report

      • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        I disagree about the idea of limiting housing increases anywhere the CO river supplies. They can and should expand the housing supply as much as possible until housing prices stabilize. As for water? Residential use pays pretty well for water. Just divert the water residential uses need from growing alfalfa in the desert.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          As soon as that issue is figured out, then great.

          But that issue is not a simple thing. CO river water rights are a tangled mess that you can’t just un-f*ck with the sword of the federal government.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, technically the SCOTUS has ruled in the past that the federal government can preempt almost all of the state laws on the matter of Colorado River water.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
              Ignored
              says:

              Really? Doesn’t seem like something they want to actually do, though?Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Let’s pick recent examples in the West. A prototype small modular nuclear reactor is supposedly being built in Idaho at INL. It’s cooling water diversion is based on a new federal claim preempting a lot of much older claims under state law. In California sometime during Trump’s term, the feds took water the state was using for environmental purposes (maintaining flows in the Sacramento River delta, I believe) and simply awarded it to Central Valley farmers. The current emergency water agreement between the Colorado River lower basin states happened only after the feds said, “Here’s the deadline. Settle it or we’ll dictate it.” Some of us are waiting for the SCOTUS decision in Texas vs. New Mexico and Colorado. If Texas wins, it will create a major upheaval in most western states’ water laws.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                I stand corrected.Report

          • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, likewise, CA zoning codes lie entirely beneath where the Feds can reach. Even if you don’t screw with the water rights between the respective states there is plenty of water within CA’s own rights for residential. We had a big water rights/anti-density commenter back in the day. I think it was Francis. He always purported that nothing further could be built because *insert long jumble of water rights* in Cali said no more water could be diverted from agriculture to residential use. Lo and behold, half a decade on it could and it was. Strawberries in the desert don’t vote. It is astonishing how much water Cali agriculture takes up.

            Suffice to say, if you could tackle building/density obstruction then water rights are a comparative walk in the park. As in, worst case scenario, you just buy the rival water users out. Residential has so much money-water compared to any other use it’s relatively easy politically speaking.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to North
              Ignored
              says:

              I’d rather have strawberries than almond milk (and almond trees are thirsty buggers). Or, why does CA grow rice?

              So sure, buy out the ag water rights. But do that BEFORE you build out, not after the fact. As Michael Cain once said, before you develop, show that you have sufficient water rights to support the development.Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m very far from an expert on construction in Cali but if you’re building in one of the big urban municipalities do you have to fret about water rights at all? Or do you just hook up to the municipal water supply and sorting out getting the water is handled by the municipal and state government?

                I ask only because as soon as anyone talks about doing/assuring/getting X before you develop it sounds very much like the normal obstructive attitude that’s gotten the left coast into this embarrassing, mortifying pickle around housing to begin with.

                As to specific ag products, I’m fine with letting the market sort it out at appropriate water prices but the fact remains that agriculture basically never has the financial clout to outbid residential for water; and it shouldn’t.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                I would assume that if there is a municipal water org, it would handle getting the water rights once the building permits were approved, and if water rights could not be acquired, the permits would be held up or denied until such time as they could be.

                I mean, I agree with you that residential water rights should trump Ag, but TTBOMK, that’s not how water rights work.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Whoever owns the water rights owns the future, Mr. Gittes, the future!Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                For you folks down there, that’s pretty damn true.Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Heh, yeah that’s what Francis always said. As I noted at the time residential use has the votes AND the money. The water is there and the residential uses will get the water they need, legal constructs like water rights notwithstanding. In the decade since we’ve had that argument what has happened in California? Residential water use has grown and agriculture water use struggles. Stories out of Cali are all about how desert farms are struggling and desert aquifers are getting over pumped. Stories about residential uses not being able to get water? I haven’t seen any myself.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, drinking water, anyway. Watering the lawn…?

                I mean, how many golf courses are in LA or Phoenix?Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      Or unless there were another reason that working indoors with poor ventilation amidst large groups of people was less attractive than it used to be.Report

  4. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    A lot of these are related of course. Employers not meeting their employees needs and poor management are very intertwined. The last polling I have seen was that something like 83 percent of CEOs wanted people back in the office. The Delta variant has stalled a lot of plan but I have seen very few companies completely reverse course to allow perpetual work from home.

    A lot of bosses, even bosses at publicly held companies, seem to treat the org/company/division as their little fifedom. I also think they worry that allowing people to work at home will show what a fraud a lot of “management” is. How can they justify their salaries and perks and positions if their team just works from home and is still productive without a boss constantly hovering over them?

    Not only are these fifedoms but there seems to be a view that working for them is a privilege and all sorts of abuses and indignities should be taken with grace for that privilege.Report

    • JS in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      ” The last polling I have seen was that something like 83 percent of CEOs wanted people back in the office.”

      That was the subject of a recent meeting with my company. Top brass wants us all back in the office (and we probably would be, if they hadn’t made the decision to tie our return to work policy to the governments, and they don’t want to risk the backlash from decoupling that).

      About 70% of the workforce is “work from home is fine, thanks”.

      I flat out told our management that not loosening remote work standards going forward WAS going to cost them top talent. They’d either need to decidedly increase salaries to attract talent DESPITE their refusal to allow work from home, or simply suck it up and accept that they’d not be getting the top levels of talent.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to JS
        Ignored
        says:

        I can see why hybrid is a good idea but that is hard to enforce fairly unless you do it in a really lockstep way. Someone told me that her company is basically doing it that way. It is “everyone is in the office on some days and everyone from home (no excuses) on the rest of the week.”

        I’m not sure how this plays out. There are lots of Americans for whom remote work never happened.Report

        • JS in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          They’re trying that with us (they’re calling it a ‘transition’ period). Our tiny team (4 people) had to explain that, given our setups, hybrid was literally the worst of both worlds.

          Right now, we have our workstations at home, and work locally — and back up critical files to the fileshares (even when we were working in the office, our file shares were too slow too work off of). Our team also uses GIT to back up our work, which is done because we’re part of a partnership and the rest of our team is 200+ miles away. So we’ve always had FTP sites, version control, software repositories, and the like.

          But if they want us back in the office, the question is “Where do we put our workstations”? We either need a set in both places (and use GIT and the fileshares to sync them), or you give us a laptop so we remote in — but then we’re working via a single screen laptop.

          And as a developer, having two monitors (or even three) massively increases our productivity. Working through a laptop screen remotely will be…slower. Especially for us poor fools who don’t have fiber yet.

          So we’re on the list as “Don’t bother with hybrid, keep us at home until we HAVE to come back. And prepare to listen to us complain”.

          And it’s the god’s honest truth. We simply don’t do much that would benefit from face-to-face time, and whatever tiny gains a day or two in the office would give us would be wiped away from the hassle of trying to keep two workstations in sync, or work through a laptop half the week.

          Which really sucks for us, because our whole team really IS more productive from home. We’re already set up for remote work (we do work remotely with the other half of our team), and nobody has to take a half day to let someone in to fix a leaky sink. Or take a half day for a 30 minute vet appointment. Or waste an hour a day on commutes.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to JS
            Ignored
            says:

            I was thinking non-developer/computer science positions mainly. The reason why I thought it needed to be lockstep was to avoid the issue of “Hey why does Bill’s team get to work from home all the time but my time is required to be in the office all the time” based on the whims of managers.

            Things are still up in the air but I don’t think that much is new beyond “things will not be like before” which is unhelpful as analysis. But I still have doubts as to whether permanent work from home has lasting power. I think something like 44 percent of the country got to work from home during the pandemic. I know firms that have already gone back to the office and there is a part of me that likes having a place to go that is not my apartment from time to time. Plus I have always worked for small employers who do not budget out for this kind of stuff and I resent needing to buy two monitors for myself even if it can be done on the cheap and for a tax deduction.

            Plus I am a weirdo because I showered everyday during the pandemic and also put on normal pants as opposed to laying around in PJs and sweats all day. I always feel grimy and gross when I am unshowered too long in the morning but this is apparently a minority view.Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      This is something I completely agree with. In the last few months, several studies have found that productivity is higher when working from home than when working in an office. On average, people who work from home waste 10 minutes less each day, work one extra day per week and are 47 percent more productive.

      Working from home enhanced productivity by 13 percent, according to a Stanford study of 16,000 workers conducted over nine months. Work from home boosts a more convenient working environment and works more minutes per shift due to fewer breaks and sick days. Workers in the same research reported higher job satisfaction and a 50 percent reduction in attrition rates.

      According to a ConnectSolutions poll, 77 percent of individuals who worked remotely at least a few times each month had boosted productivity, with 30 percent performing more work in less time and 24 percent doing more work in the same amount of time.

      So, what’s the sense of dragging staff into offices if you’re getting everything done better and faster than ever before?Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Lyle Solomon
        Ignored
        says:

        I worked from home for 3 years and then I worked in a joint office for 3, with the same team without changing my job. Working from home let me focus more on a “that day” basis. Working in an office let me learn more, expand my skills, and so on.

        Working from home is long term stagnation. There’s too much you just don’t learn.Report

  5. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    And part of me is wondering if maybe, just maybe, Boomers have started retiring.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      nah they’re gonna hang on to their entirely disproportionate piece of the pie till the bitter end to screw the rest of us just as they have on everything elseReport

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      According to a report by Pew Research Center, in the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million boomers were out of the workforce due to retirement. And the number is almost 3.2 million more than the 25.4 million boomers who retired in the same quarter of 2019.Report

      • JS in reply to Lyle Solomon
        Ignored
        says:

        FWIW, I know education is seeing massive burnout.

        Any teacher near retirement is leaving early, new teachers are avoiding starting their teaching careers, subs are increasingly difficult to find, and plenty of teachers are choosing other avenues to get out of the classroom.

        And my local district’s view towards COVID is “pandemic, what pandemic? The governor (Abbot) has made it clear, we’re back to normal”.

        So if you get COVID, they prefer you stay home. But you don’t have to. And they won’t send you work or make any adjustments for remote learning — you have to make up your missed school time if you miss too many days. Oh you have siblings? Send them in. Who cares? Masks? Can’t enforce it, so we don’t try.

        It’s literally “COVID is over, done, we’re back to normal”.

        Delta travels through schools worse than any cold. It’s pretty sobering to watch.

        At least the vaccinated tend to have mild cases.Report

  6. superdestroyer
    Ignored
    says:

    I suspect that many business are in a death loop. They do not have enough workers and thus are putting to much stress on the workers that they have. That causes the current workers to want to leave. Also, with fewer workers, the first and second line managers have to take on more effort and that causes those low level managers to want to leave. Who wants to stay in any business with high turnover in workers and in managers.

    There is no easy fix for the death spiral of many businesses.Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to superdestroyer
      Ignored
      says:

      Workers are under super stress. It’s like you have two options. Either you deal with the stress and work without any grudge. Or, you quit.

      The stimulus checks can give you some support. But how long? Yes, there are job openings as well. But you have to engrave one thing in your heart. There will be work pressure in your next job too. Are you ready for it?Report

  7. Dark Matter
    Ignored
    says:

    People get into ruts. They’re not happy with their job, they need the money and looking elsewhere would be uncertain and habit breaking.

    The Covid came and they HAD to break lots of habits.

    My WAG is about half of min wage workers could do better, now probably lots of them are. People who hated (or just disliked) their jobs either NEEDED to look for work somewhere else or they had time to.

    And yeah, lots of people made money from the gov’s stimulus(es) and haven’t burned through that yet.Report

  8. Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    To counter some of the negative comments about employers, a friend of mine at the gym owns a company and can’t find anyone….He’s offering 40-50K to start for people to work entry level in his company, essentially monitoring a scanner scanning physical records. That’s pretty damn good in my area for entry level….no takers.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Is that work that involves in-person contact with the public (although ~$20/hr is decent for entry level unskilled)?Report

      • Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        No, it’s basically running a scanning device. It might involve doing it at a customer site, but not “dealing with the public” as in a retail situation, so I’d call it “limited” contact, mainly with fellow employees.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Most of the stories I have seen along these lines and quickly gotten the employer called out as lying liars who lie and convincingly so.Report

      • Damon in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, this guy doesn’t lie, nor does he have reason to, since I was talking about how I’m looking for a new job and he was telling me what he had open……Report

        • JS in reply to Damon
          Ignored
          says:

          You’d be amazed at what people will lie about, even when it’s trivial to check.

          half the time it’s just to assure whomever they’re talking to that they’re the good guy, the right guy, the guy you need to empathize with.

          “I can’t find [people for job X] for [salary Y]” seems to always turn into “I am offering much less than salary Y, and also the job is pure hell”.

          Hell, I’ve walked into job interviews pre-pandemic where the job I applied for had a posted salary band, and when pay was discussed the number was considerably below the band, despite me being on the top end of the qualifications.

          When that’s pointed out (“That’s lower than the bottom salary on your posted job”) I got all sorts of fun explanations, but they all boiled down to “We never actually pay anyone that, that’s just to get people to show up” and I guess they hope someone settles for 15% under the bottom of the range they were told.

          And they probably wonder why they can’t attract talent.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
            Ignored
            says:

            I’ve said no to so many jobs like that. If they are willing to misrepresent something that basic, that’s not a healthy place to work. Even if you are desperate, it’s best to just walk away.Report

            • JS in reply to Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              Problem for them is…they’re just as desperate for labor, and labor knows it.

              And so they’re screaming bloody murder that they have LESS (not zero, just less) massive leverage over job seekers.

              And plenty of people are happy to believe their lies, because of course an upright businessman — and don’t we all look up to them, here in America? — wouldn’t lie.

              if he says he can’t get workers at 20 bucks an hour, it’s clearly us coddling people too much. It’s time for tough love. Pay no attention to other local businesses having no problems hiring at 15 or 17 an hour — that’s immaterial.

              Tangentially, there was a Wisconsin school district that up and decided to end free lunches because, to paraphrase their reasoning, “hunger would make the little poors work harder”. (They since recanted, as apparently just denying lunch to kids — despite having the funds dedicated to it — is a Bad Look. If they’d applied to warehouse workers, that’d just be capitalism and they’d all get stock bonuses)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to JS
                Ignored
                says:

                It would be nice if companies that made a habit of shafting their workforce paid for it in the stock market, instead of getting applauded for it.Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Many employees are reluctant to return to their workforce as they are scared of getting infected. But with the rising vaccination rates, scientists are seeing a ray of hope in controlling severe diseases. So, employees can return to their workforce with proper safety measures. Besides, as you mentioned, the job profile requires limited physical contact. It’s an added advantage in this situation.Report

  9. fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    IF the pandemic ever ends (I am increasingly unconvinced it will with each passing day), I suspect we see a LOT of retirements. Or, if it grinds on – a lot of doctors/nurses/teachers/retail workers simply burn out and, if they can at all afford, just quit. I suspect the “worker problem” is only going to get worse and worse as time grinds on.

    I admit I’ve had many days in this (college prof) where I thought “If I were within striking distance of retirement, I’d be gone” (I have 8 years until retirement with full benefits). I’ve told colleagues that if things aren’t appreciably better the end of this year, I may just resign after 22-23. Because I’m sick of it and it’s not really fun anymore, doing it half online, teaching masked, worrying about distancing, accommodating students who have to isolate. If we get a vaccine-escape mutant my quit date may come even earlier; I may just pull a UGA prof and walk out of the room some day.

    the sad thing? I used to LOVE teaching and as recently as 2019 I was saying “I might just teach until I’m 75 if my health holds out”

    And I don’t even have it nearly as bad as the people working in medicine or in retail!Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      I understand your concern and frustrations. Trust me; many people have similar thoughts. The new work culture is different. But we need to get used to it. That’s the only way to survive. If the situation improves in 2022 and we go back to normal mode, you may again dream of teaching students for another 10-15 years.

      Let us hope for a brighter future because it feels better.Report

  10. Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    This is a good post that covers a lot.

    I would only add the obvious that some of the missing workers have died. Kitchen staff in restaurants were especially hard hit by COVID and, sadly for their employers, no one can pull themselves out of the grave by their bootstraps.

    One of the weird things during the pandemic was how many stories in the “msm” would be about “where are the missing workers?” and they would interview managers and economists about their take, without just, ya know, asking the workers. It’s not like they all went into hiding. I suspect journalists just aren’t as good at the gumshoeing as they used to be.

    Anyway, here’s the best piece I’ve yet read on the missing restaurant workers, written by one who didn’t take relief, but (as you talk about above) grew her business, pitched, sold, and wrote a book, and made big changes in her life:

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-im-one-of-the-service-workers-who-left-the-restaurant-industry-during/Report

    • Lyle Solomon in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      Many civil engineers who worked for their employers now left their job due to continual no payments. They have started their consultancy service to survive. Many of them are doing good and gradually progressing. They are proving their efficiency by completing small to medium projects. This pandemic has given courage to many people to do something on their own instead of serving others.Report

    • JS in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      “I suspect journalists just aren’t as good at the gumshoeing as they used to be.”

      They never were.

      Working stiffs don’t have PR flacks. They only time they tend to get interviewed is if there’s an explosion or it’s a local heartwarming interest story.

      Business can’t hire workers? You can get a quote from a dozen businesses with a few phone calls. What reporter knows a few dozen truck drivers he can get the other side from?

      They don’t even get the pity “both sides, the truth is in the middle” lazy equivalence.Report

  11. Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    Perhaps this can offer some insight – the rejection of careerism.
    https://warzel.substack.com/p/what-if-people-dont-want-a-career

    When you talk to people who reject the modern notion of a career, many of them say the same thing: They crave more balance, less precarity, and better pay. They also, crucially, want to work. But they want to work for places that see them as three-dimensional human beings and that actually invest in them and their futures without expecting workers to sacrifice everything. They want to be a part of organizations that recognize that meaningful and collaborative work can bring dignity and create value but that work is by no means the only way to cultivate satisfaction and self-worth As one reader told me, “most of us don’t mind hard work and putting in the necessary time — when we are respected, valued, communicated with honestly, and paid right.”

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *