National News

Labor Shortages Continue to Sweep the Nation Amid Pandemic

By Brianna Bush

Reports from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show there is no clear labor shortage crisis, but long lines and wait times across the nation point to understaffed establishments.  

Labor shortages across the nation mean that there is an insufficient amount of employees to employers. 

However, according to The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for October was 4.6%. This is down from 14.8% in April 2020, the height of the pandemic. 

Numbers also show that jobs are readily available. According to their latest report, the US had 10.4 million job openings on the last business day of September.  

There continues to be debate surrounding why people are not filling these job openings. Many attribute this to the COVID-19 pandemic which changed the perception citizens have of job employment. 

“COVID-19 has made it possible for those to work online and now it’s getting backlash,” said Tonisha Hills, senior accounting major.

Hills said that now many jobs are face-to-face so it’s harder for people to adjust since they are relying on remote work. In addition, with COVID-19 unemployment benefits, many people aren’t seeking these jobs. 

The Society for Human Resources Management surveyed 1,200 employers to explore the relationship between organizations and unemployed individuals. 

According to the survey, “nearly 7 in 10 organizations believe that the expanded COVID-19 unemployment benefits have contributed to their difficulty filling certain open positions considerably or a great deal.” 

There are leaders who believe the solution to the labor shortage could be more teenage workers entering the workforce. 

As defined by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the youth labor force is made up of 16 to 24-year-olds working or actively looking for work. 

They focus on seasonal patterns as the youth labor force increases between April and July each year. According to their Summer 2021 report, “the youth labor force grew by 2.4 million, to a total of 22.5 million in July. Additionally, 54.5% of youth were employed which was up from 46.7% in July 2020.”

According to Anayah Walker, an academic program specialist at UT, this generation can’t fix the labor shortage due to systematic discrimination that lies within the workforce.   

Employment discrimination, as defined by The US Department of Labor, occurs when an employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

Discrimination also extends beyond an applicant’s first interaction with an employer. Walker said that studies show that name discrimination prevents applicants from scoring an interview. 

According to a July 2021 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Distinctively Black names reduce the probability of employer contact by 2.1 percentage points relative to distinctively white names.” 

The organizations concluded that systematic illegal discrimination is prominent amongst employers. Walker focuses on student transition and persistence to provide resources for first-generation and minority students looking to go into the workforce after college. 

She believes that the system needs to change in order for more individuals to enter the workforce.

With debate and ambiguity surrounding the labor shortage crisis, individuals continue to pinpoint the solution. 

Photo Courtesy of Forbes.

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