Why America Has 8.4 Million Unemployed When There Are 10 Million Job Openings
By Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, Andrew Van Dam, The Washington Post
A mystery sits at the heart of the economic recovery: There are 10 million job openings, yet more than 8.4 million unemployed are still actively looking for work.
The job market looks, in some ways, like a boom-time situation. Business owners complain they can’t find enough workers, pay is rising rapidly, and customers are greeted with “please be patient, we’re short-staffed” signs at many stores and restaurants.
But the nation remains in the midst of a deadly pandemic with covid-19 hospitalizations back at their highest rates since January. The surge is weighing on the labor market again, with a mere 235,000 jobs added in August. There are still 5 million fewer jobs compared to before the pandemic, reflecting ongoing problems, including child care as some schools and day cares shut down again from outbreaks.
From the White House to the local Waffle House, there’s a struggle to understand what is going on - and what’s likely ahead.
At heart, there is a massive reallocation underway in the economy that’s triggering a “Great Reassessment” of work in America from both the employer and employee perspectives. Workers are shifting where they want to work - and how. For some, this is a personal choice. The pandemic and all of the anxieties, lockdowns and time at home have changed people. Some want to work remotely forever. Others want to spend more time with family. And others want a more flexible or more meaningful career path. It’s the “you only live once” mentality on steroids. Meanwhile, companies are beefing up automation and redoing entire supply chains and office setups.