4.4 million people quit their jobs in February. They call this The Great Resignation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.3 million jobs were open nationwide. The resignations increased in retail, durable goods manufacturing and local/state government education and decreased in insurance and finance. The March data will be released on May 3rd. Many quit for better jobs, but 1.4 million had not returned from the pandemic.
I went to Lowe’s this weekend. A new employee couldn’t help me. He actually said he did not know what I was talking about when I asked to buy a bag of soil. I talked to an employee I always see, and he said they couldn’t keep workers. He said it was worse this year than last year. There is a sign posted saying they will interview today. That sign has been there for some time. Adequate training is a big issue, but what if people don’t stay long enough to be trained?
Vaccine mandates had an effect. Many healthcare workers and airline workers were fired. Military personnel retired early. We’ll see if there is a reversal in this destructive trend. We have a huge healthcare worker shortage. The “free money” during the pandemic also had a negative effect on the worker supply.
We’ve all heard about signing bonuses from retailers and restaurants. Many businesses are paying higher salaries. These higher salaries aren’t keeping up with rampant inflation – the highest in 40 years.
According to Yahoo Finance, many companies have stopped requiring college degrees. Those who do not want to go or can’t go to college are now considered as potential employees. They can be trained in the skills needed for many jobs. Others with needed skills such as problem solving and creativity can be trained in the more specific skills required. But, more training and longer training periods may be required. This is a cost for employers.
Fortune speculated in a March article that better conditions and benefits may help. But they also said a lack of savings and inflation eating into savings may get people “off the sidelines.”
The National Federation of Independent Businesses March report found:
- “The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased seven points to a net 68% ... a 48-year record high reading.”
- “Forty-eight percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, an increase of one point from January.”
- “Ninety-three percent of owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.”
- “Thirty-seven percent of owners report that supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on their business.”
A March Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article talks about the declining birth rate projecting a worker shortage for the next 10 years. Baby Boomers are retiring and not enough workers are replacing them. The article also cites transportation costs and lack of affordable housing near jobs. Employers interviewed said people beg to be hired and then don’t show up. This even happens in managerial positions.
Fox Business reports Goldman Sachs economists say we face the worst worker shortage since World War II.
One of the critical components of this issue is creating the right environment for everyone to thrive. State and local governments, economic developers, educators, employers, parents, and employees all play a part. Here are some of the pieces to the puzzle:
- Unnecessarily onerous regulations and permitting need to be removed.
- Public safety is paramount and laws must be enforced.
- Good, affordable healthcare
- Educational partners that help prepare children to be functioning adults in society
- Active economic developers like those at One Okaloosa EDC
- Parents engaged in their children’s education
- State and local governments creating a political and business environment where there is freedom of opportunity for all
We are in a rough place. The only way out, through our own efforts, is working together for the benefit of all and not having personal agendas and divisions. In Florida and Okaloosa County, we are blessed people who are working on achieving that kind of environment.