The Great American Labor Shortage

Corporations almost everywhere in America say they are desperate for work, and the latest statistical evidence is the Department of Labor Jolts report Tuesday of 9.3 million vacancies in April. Do you get the message, Congress?

The Jolts poll has never shown any vacancies since Labor started keeping track in 2000. The number of job vacancies rose 998,000 in April, including 391,000 in leisure and hospitality, 108,000 in commerce and transportation, and 102,000 in manufacturing as more states lifted Covid-19 restrictions. New hires only rose by 69,000. Employers filled around one in 15 new positions.

The gap between labor supply and demand was particularly acute in construction, where new hires fell by 107,000, despite job vacancies increasing by 23,000. Manufacturing jobs rose 102,000 while new hires fell 38,000. The labor shortage contributes to supply chain bottlenecks and higher prices for businesses and consumers.

A Chamber of Commerce poll last week found that 90.5% of businesses said a lack of available labor is slowing the economy in their area, twice as many as the pandemic problems mentioned. The American Hotel & Lodging Association reported that 96% of respondents had vacancies, but most pay less than sit on the couch and get increased subsidies when they’re not working.

The Biden government attributes the slow recovery in jobs to a lack of childcare or fear of Covid. But Covid wore off quickly due to vaccines. Far more schools were open in April than in December, so more parents should be able to work again.

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