Labor Shortage Caused by Government

America has a record 8.1 million job openings.

The media call it a “labor shortage.”

But it’s not a labor shortage; it’s an incentive shortage.

“No one wants to work,” says a sign on a restaurant drive-thru speaker in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Please be patient with the staff that did show up.”

I never wanted to work. I got a job because I had to support myself. That was good for me. It forced me out of my comfort zone. It made me a better person.

Had government offered me almost equal money not to work, I never would have applied.

Today, government takes away that incentive.

The American Rescue Plan, passed in March, increased unemployment payments by hundreds of dollars and extended them for up to 73 weeks. Given the cost of commuting, etc., many people find they are better off financially not working.

Denmark once offered workers five years of unemployment. Then they noticed that workers found work after exactly five years. So, Denmark cut the benefit to four years. Then most workers found jobs after four years. Now Denmark, wisely, has cut benefits in half.

Incentives matter.

America’s unemployment handouts began during the Great Depression when desperate people really needed help. Still, you could collect for only 16 weeks.

Barack Obama extended unemployment benefits to up to 99 weeks.

“There are no jobs!” people I interviewed waiting in line for benefits in New York City once told me.

But that wasn’t true. There were lots of entry-level jobs within walking distance.

My staff visited 79 nearby stores. Forty said they wanted to hire. Twenty-four said they’d hire people with no experience.

People in the unemployment line also said that the government should do more to train them for jobs. But New York already offered “job training” centers, so I sent an intern out to see what they did. The first offered to help her get welfare. A second told her to apply for unemployment. Neither place suggested looking for a job.

When she insisted that she wanted work, not handouts, they directed her to yet another building. There she was told she could not receive help because she didn’t have a college degree.

Finally, a fourth office offered her an interview at the sandwich chain Pret a Manger. The boss there told her she’d wasted her time going to the government Jobs Center because she could have gotten that same interview using Craigslist.

Some politicians understand that handouts encourage dependence. Sixteen states  are now ending extra unemployment benefits early. Montana and Arizona replaced extra unemployment benefits with a bonus for people who find work.

Even President Joe Biden has noticed the unintended consequences of his party’s benefits. “If you’re … offered a suitable job, you can’t refuse that job and just keep getting unemployment,” he said.

Seems more than reasonable. Yet a New York Times headline says, “Some say it presents an undue hardship.”

The reporter interviewed a “Mx. San Martin, 27, who uses the pronouns they and them.”

Mx. Martin wants to work with pets. They complained that “there simply weren’t enough jobs that I would actually want.” Restaurant work “is not in my field of interest.”

Too bad.

Bad for all of us when people think they’re entitled to our tax money if bureaucrats don’t get them the exact job they want.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

9 thoughts on “Labor Shortage Caused by Government

  1. Don’t forget the excuse being bandied about today: “I need a living wage of $15 or more, otherwise I won’t go back to work.” Minimum wage was never meant to be a “living wage” but rather a starting wage. It’s true that some employers underpay their established employees, but giving the job market, those who feel that they are underpaid can find employment for similar work at higher pay using the same skill-set they learned from their underpaying jobs. The underpaying businesses will then lose employees and be forced by the market to increase pay.

    But when the small businesses are forced to compete against “free money” from the government, we all lose.

  2. After I left the military it was hard for me to find even a minimum job. I was also going through a divorce and had 2 young children at the time. I went for assistance to help me during this time. I was only allowed WIC for my children, because my veteran disability of 800 a month was just over the cut off. Yet I struggled, as a woman with 4 kids, not a US citizen was given food stamps, wic and other things. I served 7 years in the military to get denied by my government when I asked for help. Yet this woman struggled to break laws to get into our country to get a hand out. Makes absolutely no sense.

  3. The dis-incentives continue with a flourish. The country seems ripe for failure. It’s as if if you can’t earn tons and tons of money, like models or athletes or rap stars it isn’t worth getting out of bed. If you can channel all your energy into ‘victim mode’ and capture it on a cell phone there will be a lawyer at your beck and call promising millions of dollars in settlement money. Now with the renewed emphasis on children’s head counts for more government hand outs we will likely see the further devolution of the strong two parent family.

    Yeah there are lots of rich people with personal wealth beyond my imagination. Matinee idols or captains of industry; one championed by illusion, the other by hard work and protected by crafty legislation. There are also the corrupt leading our country by crooning the Siren’s song, further jeopardizing common sense and dashing it on the rocks.

    No survivors captain . . .

  4. I and the majority of Americans are getting fed up with government incentivising people NOT to work. I am of another generation when we still have the military draft. I tried to get a job with a future but couldn’t because I hadn’t completed my military commitment. So I enlisted in the military and loved it enough that I retired after twenty-two years. Since then I have had many vocations that kept a roof over my family’s head, food on the table and clothes on our backs. In my entire life I have only collected unemployment for maybe a total of two months. Social security and military retirement does not provide me with the lifestyle that I like, so I continue to work (part time) for two reasons, the money and to remain active and healthy. I do not look for work that sits me behind a desk, but work that involves physical labor and plenty of exercise. The government needs to take the tact that if you are able bodied, you will work and perform a minimum amount of hours at a public service job such as we had during the depression with the WPA or CCC to receive any unemployment benefits. There are also administrative type jobs for those who are not physically able. In addition to the experience these people would get, they would get a sense of self worth and joy from working and earning their keep which would extend their lives. Many in the “give me” generation look and professional athletes and think that is the ‘job’ for them and don’t realize the WORK it takes to achieve that status. It is easier to become a doctor that become a professional athlete. There are not that many openings for athletes.

  5. I so agree and I think Government handouts need to stop entirely which gives all Americans incentive to work and in the long run also makes them feel proud of themselves. It’s rediculous that people think staying home and not working nowdays is a better option than work…very sad!

  6. I remember many moons ago, the piece you did on unemployment in regards to people hanging around the basketball parks waiting for someone to hand them a double-digit-per-hour job with zero experience required. When you asked why they didn’t accept an entry-level, minimum wage position, most said it was beneath them. We are spoiled Americans. It must be disheartening to those working to death at multiple low-paying jobs, who have more integrity, and act very responsibly, yet get belittled and trodden upon at every turn. In your report 30 years ago, a Jamaican emigrant said that on the island there was no welfare, and no foodstamps. You either worked, or went hungry. I doubt many Americans would survive long without jumping at a work opportunity then.

  7. I’ve had former co workers (I work as a para in a school) who have to quit working because they lose money working and can’t afford food and chikdcare. And your here talking about how the government needing to get rid of health insurance. How about talking about how the fat cat Billionaires who profited heavily off the pandemic should maybe pay there workers a decent wage or face a 90% tax rate like the golden age of capitalism of the 50s. That would solve everything.

  8. I love the “we need people to serve us but we don’t want to pay them to be Able to live near us” thought process you all have

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