It's an odd conundrum. The unemployment rate is technically at lows we haven't seen since 2008, 4.9% this month and continuing to decline. If you listen to almost any politician, however, the employment situation is bleak. Donald Trump talks about the "real unemployment rate," and he has a point because the B.L.S. doesn't count people who have given up on looking for work, or would like to work if economic conditions were better, as unemployed in the figure reported to media. The real number, in fact, could be much much higher.
Really? Tell that to the staffing managers in my former office who are currently trying to hire for upwards of 75 positions, this in a fairly small town in rural America. We're pulling out all the stops too - we even paid a fortune to bring a radio remote to a job fair last week to try to rope them in. It helped, but even that was just a drop in the bucket. At this point we'd probably settle for robots if we could bill hourly for them.
Where in the name of Bernie Sanders are all the good people at?
Throw in another factor too and things get even weirder. Despite the fact that the official unemployment rate is extremely low and business are desperate for good people, real wages are as stagnant as ever and in some sectors even on the decline. I know even in this economy it's been like pulling teeth to get our clients to raise wages. Somehow, many have been led to believe staffing agencies are supposed to miraculously circumvent the laws of supply and demand. We can do it better than they can, that's for sure, but we aren't miracle workers.
Maybe the absurdly low price of labor explains where the good people are. Maybe they are at home playing XBox instead of looking for work because the financial incentive to go out and find work isn't significantly larger than what they can bum from their parents or collect on the government dole. They are the "uncounted," no longer of enough significance for the government to bother reporting as unemployed, and yet still able to eat, play video games, reproduce, and vote.
No wonder more people are voting socialist than ever before!
Sure, it might be easy for those of us with jobs to look down on these folks, but don't we all basically rise to what is expected of us? If the government is willing to give out the money, should we blame people for taking it?
Should we really blame an unemployed engineer for refusing to accept a fast food job instead of something in his field, even if nobody is hiring?
Should we blame a recent college grad, already mired in student loan debt, for not wanting to take a job he could have gotten without the degree he sacrificed so much to earn? Should we really blame him for wanting to spend a few more years with Mom and Dad, especially since he can stay on their health insurance till age 26?
We are told we must have outsourcing and free trade and unlimited immigration because Americans just don't want to do certain jobs. Is this true, or is it that Americans just want to get paid enough to make ends meet, you know, like their parents and grandparents did?
Is the American dream dying along with the middle class?
We have a situation where the establishment elites of both political parties seem to work in collusion with Wall Street oligarchs to make it as difficult as possible to operate a small to medium business here in the United States. In addition to the constant stream of regulations, lawsuits, and bureaucracy, they have made a huge swath of ordinary Americans a de facto "dependent class" that for all intents and purposes cannot be utilized in the labor market.
Meanwhile, dear business owner (wink wink), all this unpleasantness can be avoided if you just close your Ohio or Michigan factories and move overseas.
Should we really blame those who do?
What are the solutions? I'm not an expert by any stretch, but from my perspective it seems obvious that we have to disincentivize unemployment here in America. I know it sounds harsh, but short of Christian charity it should be absolutely impossible to eat unless you are working, period. And if the government wants to create a safety net at the bottom to catch those on the verge of starvation, fine, but it should absolutely come with a work requirement that is more undesirable than the typical private sector job.
It is a crying shame that businesses in this country struggle to operate because they can't find qualified workers, period. End of story.
On the other side of the coin, businesses shouldn't be able overlook American workers and keep labor prices artificially low by hiring immigrants and outsourcing the bulk of their work overseas.
Fix both sides of this equation, and American labor and employers will meet each other again and work together to accomplish amazing things. Fail, and expect to continue down the failed, globalist road we're already on.