Issues & Insights

‘Dude, Where’s My Workforce?’

Graphic: Jim Lillicotch, License: CC0 Public Domain (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/).

It must be a nasty surprise for companies that have slavishly repeated Woke mantras and imposed overtly racist policies on workers and even customers in the name of “racial equality” to now find themselves short of the one thing they need to thrive and grow: workers. They can thank Joe Biden and the Woke Democrats for that.

No question, right now companies are sucking for air, finding it impossible to ramp up fast enough as workers stay home in droves rather than return to work.

People are said to be “scratching their heads” over why, after a year of pandemic-forced business closings, workers aren’t desperate to work and earn. After all, just a few months ago the concern was whether they’d have jobs to go back to.

President Biden’s comment that the economy is “moving in the right direction” after the number of new payroll jobs undershot expectations by nearly 800,000 shows a president out of touch with reality.

There are nearly 15 million jobs going begging, according to online job site ZipRecruiter, far more than the 7.4 million “old economy” estimate of the Labor Department. Yet, data from April’s distressing jobs report shows that nearly 9.2 million Americans remain unemployed, 29% of those for more than a year.

And just 266,000 new payroll jobs were added in April, far short of the 1 million-plus estimated by Wall Street economists, even as unemployment jumped to 6.1% from 6%, rather than than the expected decline to 5.8%.

Meanwhile, there are 8 million fewer active workers today than there were in February 2020, a statistic prominently mentioned by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in his recent testimony as a sign of economic stress.

Companies desperately need workers, but can’t coax them off the sidelines. And there really is no mystery about this.

Simply put, we’re paying people not to work, thus starving companies of employees and sharply driving up prices for goods and services as companies try to make up for lost productivity.

As recently as March 2019, someone who was unemployed took home about $348 a week on average in federal and state aid. That leapt to $938 in April 2020, part of a temporary plan put in place by President Donald Trump. That plan also included “stimulus” checks. In July of last year, the unemployment benefits fell by $300.

But that still left benefits at $638 a week, where they’re expected to stay at least into September of this year. The results are predictable, since you always get more of what you incentivize.

As the New York Post recently noted, numbers crunched by Bank of America economists show that anyone who earns less than $32,000 a year can earn more from federal and state aid than by taking a job. Benefits for nonworkers now total roughly $16 an hour, more than twice the $7.25 hourly minimum wage.

In other words, it’s a better deal for the able-bodied to stay home. No surprise, then that after April’s nasty jobs report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for an immediate end to the extra $300 a week bonus given to people who stay unemployed.

Companies that ardently embraced the Democrats’ COVID-19 economic “stimulus” and unemployment aid must themselves be feeling foolish these days. It’s yet another chapter in the long saga of misbegotten economic interventions by big government on behalf of business.

Economic historians, the honest ones anyway, will be wondering how a group of supposedly educated American policymakers could have made so many stupid, easily avoidable mistakes to derail what, without the effects of the China virus lockdown, was the healthiest U.S. economy in decades.

More troubling still is that our powers-that-be seem bent on continuing to pursue irrational socialist policies that have failed repeatedly in the past — especially making millions of would-be workers into wards of the state by locking them out of their jobs.

These days, our president’s own PR surrogates barely try to hide his struggles with age-related loss of mental acuity. But even at his best, Biden’s economic knowledge has always been suspect. He views economics as simply an extension of power politics.

People have already forgotten 2010’s “Summer of Recovery” during the Obama administration. President Barack Obama put Vice President Biden “in charge” of “directing” a powerful economic recovery, one that never came. Obama-Biden promised gold, but delivered dross.

Today we have more of the same, as Biden and the far-left Democrats seek to impose their special brand of Woke progressivism on American society. We have labor shortages, soaring inflation pressures, and falling consumer confidence. Another “recovery summer,” anyone?

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

6 comments

  • Is it “irrational socialist” or deliberate policy prescriptions put in place in the stimulus laws to covertly achieve goals? Lindsay Graham commented on the $600 unemployment boost in the first stimulus bill, and said he hoped that it was a mistake by the Democrats that would be corrected after passage of Stimulus 1. Now we know it was not a mistake, and it is defended by the executive branch members of the party in power which wants to make it permanent along with a laundry list of other welfare state benefits.

    An unanswered question is: What exactly are the real goals behind this policy of making unemployment and the dole more profitable than work? The resulting “price inflation” (currency devaluation) certainly fits the stated Fed goal of “price inflation” above an annual 2% (food prices alone are rising more than 2% per month; ditto energy prices). Keeping employment numbers weak also has a propaganda advantage for the party in power, which uses the numbers to justify ramming through several trillion dollars more in spending. A useful crisis to have concocted, for the political class seeking permanent absolute power.

  • The answer is so simple. Their goal is the crushing of We the People. Higher prices, shortages, especially of food, and general malaise produce robots eager for “someone to do something.” That’s how Germany ended up with Hitler. This is all being done on purpose. It has nothing to do with them being stupid or making irrational decisions. All on purpose. It’s about control. Once they control health and food, we are doomed to repeat all the failures of previous Utopias.

  • People took unemployment instead of two minimum wage jobs that, after accounting for hours spent on things like unpaid searches (malls), check-ins (Amazon warehouses), meetings (Target) and travel to distant sites (Starbucks) pushed their actual wages down below minimum.

    If you want workers, have the shareholders take a haircut and entice those workers back with money. And if you don’t have money to entice workers with and can only over $7,25/hour? Your business model sucks, was being propped up by cheap labor, and can’t compete.

    • If you’ve ever run a business, you’d know that you pay what the labor is worth. Labor is a resource, and like any other resource you use, if your company pays more than it is worth, the company will go broke.

      If what the labor achieves is worth only $8/hour, you pay $8/hour. If it’s worth $20/hour, you pay $20/hour. But if you’re paying $20/hour for labor that’s worth only $8, your business is toast.

      By paying people so much in unemployment, the government is artificially raising the cost of labor. It’s going to hurt small businesses in the long run, because those have the thinnest margins and can least afford to pay more for labor.

  • That jerkoff in the WH is responsible for the economic mess we’re currently experiencing. Need TRUMP back in the WH to undo the mess created by Commie sympathizers Biden and Jezebel.

  • In reality these companies are complaining that they can’t find qualified people when they are buying time for the h1bs to come online once the controlla virus restrictions are lifted

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