It’s no secret that we are in a labor shortage crunch. We’ve been in one for an extended amount of time, pretty much since the world was placed in a COVID pandemic lockdown. Lockdowns may have ended, but that doesn’t mean everyone is ready to get back to business as usual. Some people are still refusing to work.
Employers are getting desperate. Everyone is hiring and no one is applying. The job market has never been hotter and Americans have never been less interested in actually working. It’s resulted in a strange economy where businesses have customers, but sometimes no way to give them what they want. So what’s going on? Why have so many people decided they’re no longer earning a living? Just where, exactly, is all the labor? Why are people refusing to work?
It all began with the first COVID lockdowns in 2020. Jobs were lost, businesses shuttered or outright failed, and unemployment rose to levels not seen since The Great Depression that hit America from 1929 through 1939. When the lockdowns ended, businesses tried to get back to work, but their employees didn’t come back. Instead, many opted to take the federal benefits that were being doled out to the now jobless.
This benefit, which totaled anywhere from $300 to $600 per week, was a shot in the arm the country needed to jump-start our struggling economy during the COVID lockdowns. But it also brought on something perhaps unexpected. Apathy. Apathy toward returning to work. Folks were now seeing more money than they ever had previously, so a return to work was not something the bulk of our population was keen on doing.
Now, though, those benefits have gone by the wayside. No longer will people be “rolling in the dough”, so to speak. That job market that was so slow in filling, should now have no problem finding people knocking at its door, right? Not so fast. A lot of former workers are still refusing to get back to work.
Ted Cruz, the U.S. Senator from the proud state of Texas started a firestorm when he recently tweeted, “Um, get a job? There are millions of vacancies, and small businesses across the Nation are desperate for workers.”
The responses to his tweet, which are in the thousands right now, show just where we, as a nation filled with ex-workers, find ourselves. These new non-workers run the gamut of frustration to ignorance to downright attacks on Cruz and his brethren. It also shows that there are many out there who have no interest in returning to work any time soon, even knowing those federal benefits have expired.
Here’s why so many people are refusing to get off their couch and go to work, as told in their own words…
@TheFiberFriend says: “My three-year-old’s daycare costs $330 per week. If he were an infant, the price is $435. PER WEEK. That means if I have an infant, $10.88 per HOUR of my FT job goes to daycare, post-tax. Fix this.”
On that same note, @dvillella replied, “Have you checked out the cost of childcare lately? Raise the minimum wage.”
As you can see, the bulk of former worker’s criticism being tossed at Cruz’s tweet stem around just how much businesses are willing to pay to get the workforce flush again.
This one comes from @LuvofmysonJason. “The businesses need to give them a living wage. $15 or more. I am serious.”
“Most applications require an address…can’t get a job if you don’t have a house. have a reliable source of transportation? How are they getting to work? People can’t live off $7.00 an hour, Rafael. Most people have two jobs and still struggle bc $7 an hour isn’t enough money,” tweets @Boppermitz.
@White_Rose_Dem says, “People are no longer willing to provide their labor for poverty wages. There is a labor revolt going on until the minimum wage is raised to at least $15+ per hr. Full stop.”
While the majority of ex-workers cried out for higher wages, there were quite a few who held no compassion for those who refuse to work for any reason given.
“If you have no skills, were handed a HS diploma and still have trouble reading, writing or doing basic math, decided to have kids out-of-wedlock, have abused drugs, smoke, got tattoos and expect to raise a family doing a no/low skill job, you have inflated expectation syndrome,” says @JoeBrafford.
Not all responses, though, stemmed from the preferred living wage increase. Some former workers went right at another big issue at hand. The vaccine mandate.
“I refuse to work somewhere that mandates covid vaccination. I’ve turned down 2 paralegal jobs with firms in Atlanta, GA. I will stand my ground!” This came from @AmyAttaway1 and she was just one of a number of people who are refusing to scurry back to the workforce based on vaccine mandates that are becoming more the norm.
Where do we go from here? The divide continues and only looks to be getting worse. With people refusing work for numerous reasons, how do we fill the needs of our nation? A minimum wage increase could be the answer, but as worker’s wages increase, the bump has to be offset somehow. We are already seeing food prices rise faster than we’ve ever seen before, those would surely have to keep moving up.
It’s a tough nut to crack, this apathy towards a return to work, but with federal benefits coming to an end, maybe that will be the kick start our nation is in desperate need of.