Many Jobs and Many Jobless

Abby Deeths, Editor

“Now Hiring” and “Help Wanted” signs dot the town of Grand Junction at a large frequency. But Junction is not the only town with extreme amounts of open jobs. There is a labor shortage nationwide. The reasons for this shortage are debated, as over 9.5 million Americans were unemployed in June despite the 9.2 million job openings. 

There are many plausible causes for the labor shortage, though. One is the fact that the baby-boomer generation is retiring. The next, smaller generations, cannot fill the gaps that are left in the baby boomer’s wake. Another reason for labor shortages is the current trend of earning a college degree as an adult, as it decreases the number of adult employees. There has also been an increase in the number of people with disabilities, and therefore inability to work. Compared to earlier years, there is also much less employment of younger men without college degrees, as innovation has led to less need for physical labor. Young men without degrees tend to be unmarried and living with their parents, meaning that they have no need to obtain a source of income. Furthermore, current young adults ages 16-24 tend to still be getting an education, causing another chunk of the labor supply to diminish. All of these factors have led to a skill gap in the workforce, as employers are looking for skilled employees that are currently retired or in the process of gaining skills. Companies are left to choose from the rest of the population, which proves fairly small or unprepared for specialized jobs. 

The labor shortage has also been affected by Covid-19, with many suggesting that employees have realized that they can make more off of unemployment benefits than off of their paychecks. Moreover, Covid-19 has caused a growth in concern for health, which could be causing employees to withhold from rejoining their jobs or from getting jobs in the first place. Besides the direct effects, Covid has resulted in the closure of schools, which further backs up the education process. 

To cope with these factors of the labor shortage, employers have begun to get creative, with many starting programs to both educate and train employees for the job. New technology to replace some jobs is being developed and benefits are being offered as incentives for employees.