WHERE HAVE ALL THE WORKERS GONE?
If not for the COVID War, America’s labor force would have about 4.3 million more workers. U.S. employers have about 10 million job openings to fill. And jobless claims are at their lowest since the COVID War began.
Those are the premises of an article published on 15 October in The Wall Street Journal, which reports on and seeks to explain the nationwide shortage of workers.
The general lack of participation in the labor market, running at historically low levels, is attributed to a number of factors. Workers from all demographics are quitting and retiring in record numbers from all fields, but the drops among women, workers without college degrees, and those in traditionally low-paying industries (such as hospitality and childcare) are the most striking. Some analysts expect the situation to go on for several more years, and others think it may be permanent.
Despite childcare workers’ pay increasing by 10 percent, there are still fewer workers in the field, and that means more parents choosing to stay home with their young children rather than return to work. And, the article reports, “Trillions of federal relief dollars have made many less eager to return to strenuous, modestly paid jobs.”
TRENDPOST: Indeed, when the government pays people as much to stay home as they would actually make working, why should anyone be surprised that so many decide work is just “not working for them”? And for many, that attitude persists even when the benefits stop; see “END OF FEDERAL JOBLESS BENEFIT WON’T BRING MANY BACK TO WORK” (28 Sep 2021).
Even the virus itself provides some with a reason to stay out of the job market. The WSJ article states that between mid-June and mid-September 2.5 million more people than previously claimed they couldn’t work because they were suffering from COVID-19 or caring for someone who was.
In the hospitality industry, restaurant and hotel jobs are paying more but fewer workers are filling them. Many restaurants and hotels are scaling back on hours and services in order to adapt.
Retirement figures in as well. The retired population has more than doubled the figure projected before the COVID War.
TRENDPOST: Trends Journal saw this coming. See “EMPLOYMENT RECOVERY COLLAPSES” (8 Dec 2020) and “POWELL WARNS OF DANGERS FOR LABOR MARKET” (16 Feb 2021), as well as the effect of inflation, in “LABOR AND MATERIALS SHORTAGE RESTRAINING RECOVERY, FED SAYS” (13 Jul 2021).
TREND FORECAST: Among the reasons there is a shortage of workers is that they no longer want to work for poverty level wages, and after being locked down and having the time to reflect on their lives, many assessed the worthlessness of their jobs in their personal development.
As Gerald Celente has long said, “When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, they lose it.” Therefore, as socioeconomic conditions continue to deteriorate, “NEW WORLD DISORDER,” one of our 2020 Top Trends, will escalate as billions take to the streets, demonstrating against the lack of basic living standards, crime, violence, and government corruption.
MORE THAN 500,000 HEALTH CARE WORKERS QUIT IN AUGUST, PUTTING STRAIN ON HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS IN U.S.
More than 500,000 health care workers left their jobs in August and economists point to a confluence of reasons, from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, poor working standards, and high demand for skilled workers.
The shift has put new strains on hospitals preparing for a possible increase of COVID-19 and flu cases as the U.S. approaches the winter months.
The ability to walk away from jobs in various sectors and go on strike has become a new phenomenon. The Economist magazine called this past month “Striketober.”
The Trends Journal ran an article earlier this month titled, “DEERE EMPLOYEES GO ON STRIKE: MORE STRIKE TO COME,” that reported on the first strike the manufacturing company has faced in 35 years.
Our Trend Forecast predicted that severe worker shortages and high demand for skilled labor in the country will result in a new demand for unions and prompt labor strikes.
Kaiser Permanente, which is the health care giant in the West, authorized its 21,000 members to strike in Southern California over allegations of low pay and substandard benefits. The report said that vaccine mandates spurred some of these strikes, but many workers say the COVID-19 outbreak has simply shined a new light on poor working conditions.
“It got to the point where seeing signs outside the hospitals—‘Heroes Work Here’—appeared a little hollow,” Denise Duncan, the president of United Nurses of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, told Politico. “It’s almost like it’s been forgotten.”
Shereef Elnahal, the CEO of University Hospital in Newark, N.J., told the website that the hospital has seen “a record number of resignations in some areas.” He said an “unprecedented” patient load and higher wages at outside staffing firms have made it more challenging to keep workers.
The World Health Organization and its partners have called for “concrete action” to protect health care workers who continue to face the risk of COVID-19 infection and burnout. The W.H.O. said it estimates that up to 180,000 health care workers may have died from COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak.
Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations reported that there have been 30 strikes among health care workers in 2021. That contributed to a jump in organized strikes in sectors ranging from the Deere United Auto Workers, Kellogg’s plant workers, and lecturers at the University of California who are seeking “labor peace and job stability.”
The strikes are not isolated to the U.S. or in health care.
Workers across the world are dealing with similar realities: longer work hours, stagnant pay, and inflation that is putting a new strain on their wallets.
Thousands of John Deere workers in England have walked out of their jobs over disputes with the company, according to the Financial Times. The paper also pointed out that one of Germany’s largest trade unions recently asked for a 5.3 percent raise to outpace inflation.
The fear is that higher wages and a higher production cost could cut into stock market gains and bring stock prices back down to Earth. The report pointed out that consumer spending in the U.S. remains strong, but there are 4 million fewer people in the workforce and the average hourly income is up about 4.5 percent this year. (The paper noted that current inflation is higher than 5 percent over the past two months, so “wages have fallen in real terms.”)
“Businesses are going to need the labor force to meet that demand and if [workers] don’t come back, then we will see more wage growth,” Alan Detmeister, an economist at UBS and a former staff member at the U.S. Federal Reserve, told the paper.
The Economist reported that 68 percent of Americans polled say they support unions, and there has not been a time in recent history where unions have been more powerful. More workers are even willing to tell their companies to take the job and shove it. About 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, which is the most in two decades.
“Everyone in this country is a little tired of the greed,” Allan Torres, a middle-aged veteran of Kellogg’s packing operations, told the magazine.
More than 10,000 UAW members who work at John Deere in the U.S. are on strike, which means they are not bringing in a paycheck. UAW members working the line and participating in the strike receive $275 a week from the union’s strike fund, KCCI reported.
Negotiations are ongoing and the company said it would continue providing health care.
“As we work constructively with the UAW to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, John Deere will continue providing healthcare for all our UAW-represented production and maintenance employees,” the company said in a statement.
The statement continues:
“In addition, we will provide these employees with the Continuous Improvement Pay Plan (CIPP) incentives they earned before the strike as scheduled. John Deere’s healthcare and CIPP incentives are critical aspects of John Deere’s industry-leading wages and benefits. We are taking these steps to demonstrate our commitment to doing what’s right by our employees and focusing on all that we can achieve together.”
TREND FORECAST: It is a clear supply and demand issue: The higher demand, the lower the supply… the higher the price paid for the commodity, be it a product or service.
With a severe worker shortage and high demand for skilled labor, unions, which have been in long decline in the United States, will be gaining strength. Thus, the stronger the unions grow, the greater their demands will rise… and so too will labor strikes.
STARBUCKS WORKERS: UNIONS 2.0
Some Starbucks employees are demanding better pay and improved working conditions.
Three Starbucks locations in Buffalo filed a petition in August with the National Labor Relations Board requesting union representation, according to the Associated Press. These employees say they’ve faced several issues ranging from poor scheduling and understaffing.
The company’s position has been that there is no reason for unionization because it believes “that they would not find it necessary given our pro-partner environment.” And then it is accused of resorting to intimidation.
Business Insider reported that executives from that coffee chain visited these locations. One worker posted a picture of Rossann Williams, the company’s executive vice president and president of North America, sweeping the floors in front of a counter.
“Why is the President of Starbucks North America, Rossann Williams, sweeping our floors in Buffalo? Our floors are fine—clean up your anti-union campaign,” SBWorkers United, an unverified Twitter handle, posted.
The New York Times reported that Starbucks deployed two “support managers” to Buffalo-area locations that some workers say seem to be an “imposing force” meant to intimidate employees back into line.
“It is not an easy job,” Michelle Eisen, an employee at the chain, told the paper. “It should not be complicated further by feeling like you’re having everything you’re doing or saying watched and listened to.”
We’ve also pointed out that one of the results of the COVID-19 outbreak was that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer; 37.2 million Americans are living in poverty in the U.S., which marks a 3.3 million jump since 2019. The report pointed out that married families had the lowest level of poverty at 4.7 percent.
Most Americans are stuck in their menial jobs making minimum wage with no career advancement. (See “DOLLAR GENERAL EMPLOYEES: PLANTATION WORKERS OF SLAVELANDIA.”)
The Times pointed out that none of the coffee chain’s 9,000 locations in the U.S. are unionized. Employees in various industries have felt emboldened in recent months to unionize to increase their quality of life and share in some of the profits that these companies have made.
Starbucks shares fell nearly 50 percent off their 52-week high at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Investors Business Daily. But Starbucks’ stock has bounced back and is trading just off new highs.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed the face of manufacturing in the country, with workers expected to work more hours without benefiting from record profits at many of these establishments. Many of these companies cannot replace these positions so easily, and so the workers feel emboldened to speak out against these conditions and organize strikes.
“Starbucks likes to say they don’t consider us employees, they consider us ‘partners’, but we have no power in that partnership,” Jaz Brisack, 24, who is part of the employees’ organising committee, said, according to the BBC. “But if we can build actual worker power for baristas, then we can change not just Starbucks and make it the best it can be, but help make the whole services industry better.”
TREND POST: “Baristas?” Back in the day when someone worked at a soda fountain they were called “Soda Jerks?
Baristas is a bullshit name given to “Coffee Jerks” by the BIGs so they make the plantation workers of Slavelandia feel as though they have a special talent and an important job. According to ZipRecruiter; “As of Oct 18, 2021, the average hourly pay for a Starbucks “Barista” in the United States is $11.64 an hour.”
TREND FORECAST: When the COVID War began in 2020, there was never an expectation of the combination of an employee shortage, spiking inflation and worker strikes.
Indeed, just the opposite was expected. After being cooped up, locked down, and out of work, when there was a ceasefire in the COVID War, the workers were expected to rush back to their jobs. As we have detailed, there are several reasons for the falloff: from “No Jab, No Job” employer mandates, not wanting to work at jobs that are unfulfilling and refusing to go to work for a company that pays non-living wages
The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the country’s shift toward so-called gig economies and cheap labor. (See “SLAVELANDIA: RICH GET RICHER, POOR GET POORER,” and “AMERICA: TAX/AUDIT ‘WE THE PEOPLE,’ NOT BILLIONAIRES”) (See “BILLIONAIRES BEAT TAXES: LITTLE PEOPLE PAY” and “AMERICA’S RICHEST 400 FAMILIES PAY A TINY PERCENT OF FEDERAL INCOME TAX COMPARED TO THE WORKING CLASS.”)
And now, with the Bigs in control in virtually every business sector, and no room to move up the corporate or small business ladder, many would rather not work at all than work at a job that pays $15 an hour or less, that will take them nowhere.
Thus, we forecast that unemployment numbers will remain high and hiring difficulties will persist. And, with more companies mandating and/or requiring employees to be vaccinated, this too will add to the job gap.