It’s been more than two years since COVID first hit, but the U.S. economy is still reeling and things are not looking up at the moment, particularly in the labor market.
If things don’t turn around quickly, the U.S. could be headed toward a permanently damaged economy and a workforce that won’t be able to keep up with global competitors like China.
Despite pandemic regulations relaxing and life “going back to normal,” inflation is still soaring and the workforce is suffering, with record-high job openings at 11.5 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Unemployment may be at only 3.6 percent, as BLS reported, but that is not the only indicator of the health of the workforce.
The bigger problems are that there are too many job openings, too few workers and too few developed workers.
New studies have found that workers are not receiving the professional development necessary either to remain effective in their positions or to advance.
If workers do not have the proper training, then they are less productive and unable to take on more responsibility — which means that companies have to try to find more workers for more positions. The whole supply chain suffers as a result.
“For years, the U.S. has spent far less on training its workers and done so much less effectively than most other wealthy nations, which is contributing to the supply chain woes caused by the pandemic,” Politico reported.
“Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. spent just 0.03 percent of its GDP on worker training … That’s less than a third of what OECD nations spent on average, or 0.10 percent,” Politico reported.
For every one worker, there were two job openings in March, Politico reported. But many workers who need jobs say that they do not have the skills necessary.
“Nearly half (47 percent) of unemployed adults looking for work say a lack of skills or education make it hard for them to maintain work or get better jobs,” Prestigious Scholarships reported.
“This is a crisis point,” said Scott Solberg, Boston University professor and vice president of research for the Coalition for Career Development Center. “We have to have a national conversation about how we’re going to elevate career readiness, because it’s all about economic competitiveness.”
Polls showed that many were unwilling to apply for jobs they wanted due to a lack of training.
“Fifty-seven percent of those recently looking for a job did not apply for jobs they wanted because they didn’t believe they had the required skills or training, according to the poll,” Prestigious Scholarships reported.
This, of course, leaves many jobs unfilled. Meanwhile, unskilled or untrained workers fill other jobs.
“Industries are having troubles getting workers right now; a lot of that is that they’re not skilled up or are trained to do work in those industries, because they’ve left and gone to other industries,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said, according Politico. “Right now is the time to make sure we continue to make investments in workforce development [and] job training.”
If there is no labor, or unskilled labor, it’s going to keep damaging the supply chain. That which will keep driving inflation and speed us toward recession.
What are the Biden administration and Democrats doing about all this? Nothing.
On May 13, Biden tweeted that taxing the wealthy was the way to bring down inflation.
You want to bring down inflation?
Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 13, 2022
But that would do nothing to help the ailing labor market.
Biden promised during his campaign that he would create millions of jobs, Axios reminded us in April.
That’s fine, but unhelpful if you don’t have workers, or only unskilled workers, to fill those jobs.
The U.S. workforce development system “is actually fairly broken, and it’s not super responsive to industry need,” said Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Politico reported. “We’re in this crazy dynamic economy; jobs are changing faster than ever before … and yet we have this system that continues to do things the way it always has.”
The burden now falls on companies to start investing in the workforce and train workers, which the federal government can easily incentivize with tax breaks. If not, we may be heading for a perpetually crippled and unstable economy.
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