The pandemic introduced modern Americans to a variety of shortages. We watched toilet paper and hand sanitizer fly off the shelves amid panic buying in 2020. More recently, retailers have been struggling to find warehouse space. Then, there’s the chip shortage that put some automakers in a bind. However, one of the most significant shortages we’ve seen in the past few years is the labor shortage. Right now, job openings are approaching a record high in America. However, many workers are being a little pickier about their jobs these days.
At a Glance
- There are more than 11 million job openings in the United States, close to a record high.
- Americans are quitting their jobs and looking for better opportunities.
- Employers are raising wages to attract new employees, adding to inflation.
Why Are American Job Openings Nearing a Record High?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on job openings and labor turnover for January earlier today. In that report, we can see that job openings in America are nearing a record high. At the end of January, there were 11.3 million open jobs in the country. That comes to a little more than one and a half open jobs for every unemployed person, on average.
The report also showed that 4.25 million Americans quit their jobs. This seems like a massive number. However, it is down from nearly 4.5 million at the end of 2021. This number is still 23% higher than it was before the pandemic struck and shook up the American economy and workforce.
It is important to note that these numbers are from January of this year and don’t reflect what’s currently going on in the country. However, the trend in employment doesn’t seem to be changing drastically. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that job openings in America surpassed the previous record high in February.
The Great Resignation and the Current Job Market
The Great Resignation is the name that experts have given the current trend of Americans quitting their jobs. Many are still blaming the extended unemployment benefits and stimulus checks for the labor shortage. However, both of those sources of money dried up months ago. The truth is, the pandemic caused people to look at their jobs in a new light. This is the real cause of the record-high number of job openings and the labor shortage in America.
Workers are moving to jobs that will give them better pay and benefits. At the same time, many workers are looking for better work-life balance or remote employment.
The Great Resignation hit the restaurant industry hard. Restaurant workers have long been told to “get a better job” if they didn’t like the pay and working conditions. Now, they have. Currently, many restaurants are raising wages across the board. This is great for employees. However, many patrons are seeing higher prices to compensate for the extra expense of higher wages.
Other industries are feeling the same pressure and many consumers are feeling the same pinch at the register. The New York Post reported that hourly wages in the United States increased 5.1% in February compared to the same month in 2021. As a result, it’s hard to hang the blame of inflation solely on these higher wages.
The US government is set to release its updated inflation report tomorrow. Currently, experts are expecting them to announce that inflation is up 7.9%. So, these pay raises are barely helping most average workers keep up with their bills and expenses.