Labor Day

How ironic that this Labor Day all employers can talk about is labor shortages. Promising talent is being picked off with unsolicited offers for way more than their current salaries, and entry level workers cannot be found. Add to that, the national employment level is 6.1 million lower than before COVID. Nationally, we have 10 million open jobs with 8.6 million unemployed. This ain’t going to be easy to fix.

Some of this is COVID related and some is not.

Let’s start with COVID effects:

  1. Women in the work force: multiple issues. If a kid is home from school, a parent is home, typically the Mom. This is described as the unpaid workforce.Then we have the “she-cession.” 2 million more women than men were laid off due to COVID.
  2. Remote working has made many workers realize they don’t want to go to their old job, career or commute. Additional federal unemployment benefits have helped, but cutting them off has not brought the influx of workers back that many states were expecting.
  3. Many low wage workers have switched careers especially in the food, leisure and hospitality businesses.
  4. Many older workers have retired or aren’t coming back after the pandemic.

Non-COVID effects:

  1. Demographics. We have fewer first time workers entering the workforce.
  2. No immigration, legal or illegal. That is bad for business that needs skilled Visa holders as well as low wage industries that historically employed illegal immigrants.

So what are employers doing?

Raising entry level wages by 2-4 dollars an hour.

Providing more and better training.

Automating highly manual processes.

Getting more creative about who and how they hire.

Selling their companies….okay that is a joke, but with private equity offering high multiples of earnings, it is a worthy idea.

My suggestion is to take a deep breath and focus on retaining your best people. Articulate what is in it for the new hire to come work for you and make their first week memorable. Have a nice Labor Day Weekend.


Image courtesy of the national Museum of the Great Lakes