US Labour Shortages Intensify Across All Sectors
For all areas of the US economy — from small businesses to giant corporations — a growing shortage of workers is beginning to be felt. The unemployed labour pool (6 million) is now smaller than the number of job openings (6.7 million), and the gap is only growing wider as the Trump reforms to the US economy begin to have an impact.
Truck drivers are in perilously low supply, Silicon Valley continues to struggle to fill vacancies, and employers across the grid are coping with a skills mismatch as the economy edges ever closer to full employment.
“Business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”
The Problem is Greatest for Skilled Jobs
Skilled trade workers average near 55 years in age, and as the baby boomers retire, so do the skilled workers — and they are not being replaced. Why not? According to “Dirty Jobs” TV personality Mike Rowe:
• High school curriculum: Most U.S. high schools have eliminated shop classes and other vocational training opportunities, as budget cuts claimed a traditional pathway into a career in the trades.
• College vs. the trades: In many cases, students are counseled that going to college (and often taking on thousands of dollars of debt) is the only way to become successful, despite the fact that there is a surplus of solid, good-paying career opportunities in the trades that do not require a bachelor’s degree.
• Family businesses: Many trades contractors are family businesses, in which the next generation may not want to continue the tradition.
… Today’s students are given the idea that obtaining four-year college degree is the only path to success, despite the fact that there are millions of good job openings that do not require a degree. “You have to make (skilled trades work) aspirational,” said Rowe. “You have to change the image of the opportunity.”
• Training programs: More training programs are needed for the next generation of electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians. __ Skilled Labour Shortage
Food and Hospitality Services Also Hard-Hit
More people are employed, and eating out. But where are the food service workers?
A tight labor market and an explosion of new restaurants have made finding and keeping help ever more difficult across the country.
In 2017, the National Restaurant Association reports, 37 percent of its members said labor recruitment was their top challenge, up from 15 percent two years ago. With low profit margins leaving little room to do what most businesses do in tight labor markets — increase wages — restaurant owners are having to find other ways to attract and hold onto workers.
… “Everybody eats out,” said Gerri Mason Hall, the head of human resources at Sodexo in North America, the giant food service company and cafeteria operator, which also vies for restaurant workers. “We are competing for executive chefs, front line cooks, the entire talent pool.”
… Restaurant industry experts say the recent crackdown on undocumented workers has sent a further chill through the business. Dishwashers and other low-wage restaurant workers have long been recruited from the nation’s undocumented work force, but many restaurateurs are wary now of going to that well. __ New York Times
Blame Trump for scaring the undocumented restaurant workers away, but also give him credit for boosting the underlying economic activity that is pushing the greater demand for services.
Skills shortages in the oil industry include shortages of engineers, welders, rig workers, and on and on and on . . . Similar skills shortages in construction, manufacturing, health care, transportation, utilities, etc. etc.
The fierce competition for hiring has led to both a drop in the unemployment rate and a rebound in the prime-age employment-to-population ratio in Iowa. It has also raised the specter of labor shortages, with businesses simply unable to find experienced workers to fill their positions. “There are not a lot of welders sitting around looking for work. The construction trades, the roofers, the framers, the dry-wallers,” said Dan Culhane, the president of the Ames Chamber of Commerce. “Those are [workforce] challenges that Ames and Story County and Des Moines face.” __ https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/07/hello-full-employment/564527/?utm_source=feed
More on Retiring Baby Boomers
The US is not the only country that is losing skilled workers and gaining huge numbers of retirees. In fact, most developed nations are worse off in that regard than the US:
One reason the U.S. is in better shape is its comparatively high rate of immigration. Since people tend to migrate when they are younger, immigrants tend to bring down the age of the population as a whole…
The U.S. also has another trend working in its favor: Baby boomers are retiring just as their children — sometimes known as the “echo boomers” — are entering their prime working years. Boomers are no longer even the largest age cohort; more of today’s Americans were born in the 1980s and 1990s than in the postwar years. As today’s teens and 20-somethings enter the workforce, they will partly offset their parents’ exit. __ Source
Under Obama, Millions Gave Up Looking for Jobs
The US Obama administration seemed custom-made to sabotage the US economy and US industry. Millions of workers abandoned the search for work, discouraged by the pessimism across the economic sectors.
Under Trump, the opposite problem is emerging. Too many jobs and not enough workers will lead to a certain amount of wage inflation as employers are forced to bid for new workers against all other potential employers. Wage inflation will lead to higher prices for goods, and then interest rates will slowly rise to compensate. It is the typical business cycle in a capitalist economy.
The greatest challenge for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” crusade is to contain and reduce government spending, regulation, legislation, judicial activism, and taxation to levels that will not bring back the damaging malaise and pessimism that narrowed US economic horizons in the 70s under Jimmy Carter and in the 2008-2016 span under Obama.
Trump only has a few years to try to reverse many decades of engineered decline.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .