New dynamics are shaping the labor market, labor organizing and labor policies
Economists are scratching their heads furiously — why is there a labor shortage amidst high unemployment? Everywhere employers are posting “Help Wanted” signs but still face shortage of workers. Construction projects are stymied, retail shops are half-staffed and produce rots in the fields all because of a lack of workers. There is no fresh supply of “essential workers” who are surging into the job market.
The conservative view, that people don’t want to work and that the unemployment benefits are a disincentive, has been debunked by the evidence. An academic study analyzed the effect of cutting unemployment benefits (done in 26 states which are all but one led by Republican governors). On employment rates, the impact was negligible — only 7 of 8 people who were dropped from unemployment rolls actually gained jobs. But for households, the impact was harsh and tens of thousands faced struggles in paying rent and bills and buying food. Also, household spending dropped $2 billion in those states, causing damaging ripple effects.
Workers are voting by staying home. Lousy job conditions — low pay, dangerous work environments including the risk of COVID, mistreatment — are not …