HomeNewsWhy America Is Facing Serious Labor Shortage: By the Numbers

Why America Is Facing Serious Labor Shortage: By the Numbers

by Amy Myers
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The U.S. is still fighting the effects of the labor shortage crisis. While the deficit became more noticeable during the pandemic, the cause has more to do with an issue of generational numbers rather than public health.

Since the start of the pandemic, many companies have had to close their doors, whether temporarily or permanently. Of course, this resulted in thousands of lost jobs, but this was only the tip of the labor shortage iceberg. A study that Axios conducted demonstrated how the number of workers in the U.S. has plummeted within the past few decades.

According to the results, labor force growth has steadily decreased since the 1970s. Back then, the number of workers increased by over 30 percent. By the 1990s, this amount decreased to 12.6 percent. The report forecast that the 2020s see only a four percent total increase.

Generation Z Workers Are Not Enough to Supplement Labor Force

Back in the 70s, the baby boomer generation was just entering the workforce, supplying a huge boost to its numbers. We saw another swell again when the massive millennial generation began working in the 2010s. But now, the boomers are reaching retirement, and the significantly smaller generation Z can’t resupply these numbers on its own.

“We’re trying to warn employers that this is not just a passing fad but a new reality,” said Bruce Evans with Emsi Burning Glass, a firm that analyzes job listings.

In July, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the size of the labor force will only increase by 0.2 percent a year from 2024 to 2031. And according to Evans, the workforce system isn’t equipped to deal with these small numbers.

“When I entered the labor market, all these systems were set up to keep people away, because every job was overwhelmed with the number of workers looking to do those jobs,” said Evans. “Now that’s just not true anymore, but all those systems have been retained.”

Grocery Stores Among the Many Businesses Suffering from Labor Shortage

One of the most noticeable industries suffering from the labor shortage is grocery store chains. Instead of having just toilet paper and disinfectant out of stock, goods of all types are missing from the shelves. All across the country, vendors are struggling to find enough truckers to transport products. As a result, shipping costs have more than doubled.

“We typically will ship, East Coast to West Coast – we used to do it for about $7,000,” said Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce. “Today it’s somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000.”

For those that can’t afford the new prices, that means they have to put up with long wait times.

“The canned goods, the sodas, the chips – those things sat because they weren’t willing to pay double, triple the freight, and their stuff doesn’t go bad in four days,” Myers said.