The manufactured 'Labor shortage' crisis

'There are more job openings than unemployed workers' is a misleading and in many states, outright false, claim.

Through most of 2021, claims of labor shortages have resonated among employers, business groups, and elected officials in pushes to cancel unemployment benefits and dissuade further assistance or stimulus packages for the public.

These claims/theories were proven false as states that cancelled unemployment benefits early experienced very little to no improvement in job numbers as a result over Summer 2020. As federal extended unemployment and other UI programs expired throughout the rest of the US, employers claim the theories of workers flooding job applications haven’t happened.

Purveyors of labor shortage claims regularly point to job openings, currently 10.9 million in the US, exceeding the number of unemployed workers in the US at 8.3 million.

But citing this statistic is misleading. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia currently have more than 1.00 job openings per unemployed worker. Some of the most populous states in the US, such as New York and California, only have 0.45 job openings per unemployed workers.

Many of the job openings are also in some of the lowest paying industries, such as leisure and hospitality with 1.65 million job openings and a median annual wage of around $25,000.

These variances between states were also prevalent prior to the pandemic.

In October 2019, Pew Research published a report that 39 states in the US had more job openings than unemployed workers looking for work, with 7.1 million job openings and 6 million unemployed workers in the US based on data from August 2019.

But the labor shortage claims and narratives blaming workers, aid, assistance, the ‘no one wants to work’ myth persist. ‘Employers Are Baffled as U.S. Benefits End and Jobs Go Begging’ reported Bloomberg on September 20, 2021, quoting employers in different industries floating different possible reasons for hiring issues rather than identifying clear problems in hiring practices, workplace conditions, wages, and acknowledging the poor treatment workers in various industries received throughout the pandemic, whether they were expected to work through and expose themselves to COVID-19 or they were thrown onto broken unemployment systems, often with no regard or appreciation as employers and industries received billions in PPP loans and bailouts.