This article originally appeared on Real Clear Politics on October 1, 2021
Joe Manchin said it best: “We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something’s not matching up here.” The West Virginia senator’s instincts are right. Something in the labor market fundamentally changed during the pandemic. Fewer people seem willing to work.
The National Federation of Independent Business has been conducting a monthly survey of small business owners since 1974. The August results were disconcerting. A 48-year record high — 50% — reported job openings that could not be filled. Of those owners hiring or trying to hire, 91% reported there were few or no “qualified” applicants. A record high 29% reporting no – zero – qualified applicants. All this despite a record high 41% reporting that they had increased compensation. As a result, another record high — 28% — identified labor quality as their top business problem.
So, what’s causing these historically bad results?
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