The pandemic cost millions of Americans their jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 9.6 million of them are actively seeking work, however businesses are reporting significant labor shortages. Weekly jobless claims are at a pandemic-era low just this past week, but businesses, particularly in the restaurant, service and construction industries, are still struggling to hire.
Experts think that the labor force is unlikely to return to what it was prior to the pandemic and while it's hard to pinpoint a definitive reason for the disconnect between Americans looking to re-enter the labor force and a possible catastrophic labor shortage, the following four main possibilities are leading indicators;
1. Unemployment benefits are a disincentive – employees have been in a position where they were literally making 4, 5 and sometimes $6 an hour more on UI (unemployment insurance) with the pandemic bonus.
2. Covid-19 health concerns - 500,000+ people in the US have died from COVID-19, so it's no surprise that the possibility of contracting a deadly disease would discourage people from going back to work.
3. At home care is still needed - the main reason adults can't return to the workforce is because they still need to stay at home with their kids. Some have not sent their children back to school since the covid-19 outbreak and have since chosen the online class method and many still cannot find the proper child care for there children which will not allow them to return back to the office.
4. Workers are holding out for higher wages - To account for financial struggles, large US companies have publicly raised their minimum wages during the past 2 years. (But still, many seek to “couch-surf” and collect unemployment vs. re-entering the labor force)!