Where Are All the Workers?

Common water cooler conversation nowadays is about how short staffed we are at the moment. I’m sure, in reading the news, this is water cooler conversation everywhere. Where are all the workers?

We all know salary plays a large part of someone applying for a job after we decide the duties of the position sound intriguing. Then we consider the benefits, such as teleworking, insurance, and time off. During our interview, we are also deciding if we can work with the people conducting the interview and what the environment might be like.

From what I can see, hourly workers are benefiting from the worker shortage with so many more employers starting at around $15 an hour. This is a wage we’ve been told is a livable wage. Employers for entry level hourly jobs also appear to being much more flexible in the hours an employee might be able to be on the job. If they offer insurance, even better. All of this is good and a step in the right direction.

I’m not sure I’m seeing too much of a change for exempt employees though. Many employers are still wanting people to come in to an office setting to work. Salaries haven’t become as competitive as is probably necessary. No increase in the number of vacation and/or personal time off days. There also doesn’t seem to be a larger share of benefits being paid by the employer.

Two other factors are teen workers and Covid. Too many of the teens I know of personally or peripherally just aren’t interested in getting a job. Or if they get one, staying at a job, even when earning $15 an hour (go figure).

The second factor, which is much more morbid, is the number of Covid deaths and Covid long-haulers, those who have lingering debilitating effects of having Covid. When we lose 800,000 people to a single disease (that have officially been counted), and many of those lost were of working age, and many were front-line workers, it does create a void.

That is a lot of people not in the workforce. Millions of teens, 800,000 Covid deaths, and about 12.5 million Covid long-haulers, plus the 113 million current workers, as mentioned, that is a lot of people not looking to enter the workforce.

This number doesn’t even take into account the number of families who decided during the pandemic both parents didn’t need to continue working. The number doesn’t include mainly working mothers who now have to stay home due to childcare costs/shortages. The number doesn’t include people on long-term disability. Nor a myriad of other people who choose not to be a part of the workforce, or can’t be in the workforce.

To me, the bottom line is, employers need to step up their game to entice people back into the workforce with better working conditions, and the Democrats need to pass the Build Back Better plan that will help with every day expenses of workers. We also need to have all adults able to get vaccinated to get the shot and the booster, and our children eligible need to be vaccinated too.

I know this is more than a little selfish, but the reason I say employers need to step it up is to help the rest of us who are still in the workforce. We have had to step in and perform the duties of two, three, or more employees and it’s taking its toll. This, of course, is not even close to comparing the loss of so many people, which is heart wrenching on so many levels. It is however a new pandemic reality that is affecting all of us, and will in ways we don’t even know yet.

To all of you working to keep your head above water, you are not alone. You are appreciated. You are noticed. What I keep telling myself to get me through some days is, this too shall pass. I just hope sooner rather than later, for all of our mental health’s sake.

Hang in there!

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