How Can Employers Solve This 'Labor Shortage'? Maybe 'Decent Wages' Will Do The Trick!
Republicans continue to insist that efforts to help people get through the Pandemic Recession are the reason that it's just impossible to find workers at the moment. They claim all the people who used to love working long hours at low pay have simply stopped looking, because those bums can sit around getting princely sums of unemployment money instead of going to work at jobs where they might still be lucky enough to get infected. Mind you, that's also what Republicans were claiming a year ago, when the economy was still bottoming out.
The whining from the Right is as constant as it is wrong.
As this HuffPo story explains in some detail, the complaints that no one's willing to work are all bullshit, according to academic studies and economists. Yes, some employers may be having trouble filling positions right now, but there are far more plausible reasons for that than the notion that the safety net is leading folks to sit around the house getting high and watching the tube. That wasn't the case last year, when the the emergency unemployment pay was $600 a week, notes HuffPo:
[A] few weeks after the initial lockdowns, businesses started recalling workers, millions returned to their jobs despite the extra benefits, and the jobless rate plunged. A spate of academic studies found the extra benefits weren't stopping people from going back to work after all.
That's as true now as it was then, especially since the emergency supplemental unemployment benefit has dropped to $300 a week.
Nobody's Lazying Around Enjoying The Pandemic
For starters, while some employers are having difficulty finding workers as business starts expanding again, that doesn't seem to be the case overall. Even in this supposedly wide-open job market with a glut of jobs and not enough workers willing to fill them, there still tends to be many more applicants than there are jobs. And while the unemployment rate has improved, it's still around six percent; as HuffPo points out,
there were 4 million more unemployed people in March 2021 than in February 2020. That data reflects people who are trying to find jobs, not those who have removed themselves from the workforce for a number of reasons, like a lack of child care.
That lack of childcare is a big deal, actually; with many schools still closed (and summer break on the way), a lot of parents who would love to go back to work just aren't able to. Hell, even this California chef who blames the huge unemployment benefits for his difficulty filling jobs (and may have fibbed about what he's paying) acknowledges that lack of childcare is a huge deterrent:
There are no employees available in California. We are paying dishwashers $21 to start. The two main reasons people… https://t.co/U08HJJpJS4— Chef Andrew Gruel (@Chef Andrew Gruel)1619729585.0
The Pittsburgh Experiment
At the Pittsburgh Business Times, reporter Nate Doughty reports that a number of businesses in the area are responding to the weird employment conditions right now through the dangerously socialist method of offering better pay and benefits, so they can attract top candidates. For instance, there's the ice cream parlor that's expecting a very busy summer as vaccinated people come out in public and demand cold sweet things. It didn't have enough staff to be open seven days a week, so it did some free market stuff that had the added benefit of getting media attention:
[On] March 30, the parlor announced it would more than double the starting wage for the roles, going from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, a scoop [We see what you did there, Doughty — Dok Z] that seemed to captivate workers throughout the region and one that earned a significant amount of local media coverage.
"It was instant, overnight. We got thousands of applications that poured in," Maya Johnson, general manager of Klavon's, said. "It was very overwhelming, very. People were coming in by the next day that it broke on the news, they were coming in, filling out paper applications. I was doing on-the-spot interviews."
Ms. Johnson also pointed out, sounding like some kind of wild-eyed Marxist who thinks workers deserve more than being beaten until morale improves, that
You're going to get quality work from people when people know that they are going to make a good paycheck [...] They're going to put their best foot forward in order to keep their position and they're going to appreciate you.
Good lord, how is anyone supposed to make money doing THAT? Couldn't you just threaten them a lot and get the same results?
Doughty also talked to an actual worker, a bizarre journalistic tactic in economic reporting that we hope may catch on. Marlea Pavlick, a part-time bartender and server at the "G.O.A.T. Sports Bar," says she was lured in by the bar's having advertised a guaranteed $20 an hour wage for front-of house workers. The place pays the regular minimum for tipped workers, $2.83 an hour, but if employees' weekly totals don't average out to at least $20 an hour, the bar will make up the difference.
Pavlick seems quite happy with this socialist workers' utopia, even though she should know that low wages and long hours build character:
"I feel way more motivated; I don't dread going into work the way I did at other places," Pavlick said. "The people are way more willing to do the work when they're getting paid for it. They're way more willing to help you out and run food for you and do all these extra things because they're getting paid very well and they know they are, they know they're going to walk away with at least $20 an hour."
She added that she'd spent two months looking for work, but despite submitting five applications every day, hadn't heard back from many employers. Probably because she was loafing around with the "Internationale" playing so loud she couldn't hear the phone.
G.O.A.T. owner Josh Wyka explained that with lots of places struggling to find workers, he'd had to offer more to get good employees. Also, it turns out that lazy workers are awfully picky right now!
"The people who are looking to work, they were all looking for full-time hours and not everyone is able to offer that right now, so I've been able to be fortunate enough to snag some of those and be able to offer full-time hours upfront to begin with."
Truly, these are the horrors that job creators are being driven to by Joe Biden: offering good jobs at good wages, and building a workforce that's motivated and happy to make a living wage.
Other businesses in the piece also confessed that they'd been forced to such measures as offering new water-park employees four season passes (one for the worker, three for friends and family) or, in the case of a lumber company, emphasizing in their recruiting pitches that they offer both competitive wages and lots of opportunities on the job. At job fairs, the lumber company emphasized policies such as
promoting from within, job security, its familial culture and the ability to "help you build your American dream" by starting a career, not just a job, with the company.
Clearly, the economy is going to hell in a handbasket under Joe Biden. Not a single one of the employers profiled by Doughty bragged about making a killing by stealing employees' wages, or even showed the slightest interest in forcing workers to compete with each other to keep their jobs. America is over.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.