How Trillions In Newly Printed Money Created A Labor Shortage

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If you’re tired of binge-watching Netflix, there are likely a few restaurants in your neighborhood that would love to hire you. A job might help relieve the boredom.

On the other hand, why work when one can just be one of the more than 6 million former workers now collecting “pandemic unemployment insurance”? Those millions are in addition to the 3.6 million former workers collecting ordinary unemployment insurance. For many workers, these benefits now total $300 per week. In March, President Biden extended the program until September.

And then there are the many millions more who have recently received a piece of the third round of stimulus payments. All three bailouts combined to total around $460 billion in checks mailed out to Americans.

So, it shouldn’t be an enormous shock when we find out that many employers are having trouble finding workers. One McDonald's restaurant is offering bonuses just for showing up for an interview. One eatery is offering a $400 sign-on bonus.

Nor is it just the service industry that can’t find workers. Construction employers are reporting shortages, as are trucking operations. The NBC affiliate out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that the price of gas may increase because so few tank truck drivers can be found. The problem is “a lack of qualified drivers.”

Even government employers—who tend to offer more job security and a lot more vacation time than private firms—are offering extra cash to get more applicants in the door.

Millions of Workers Have Also Left the Labor Force

An endless stream of unemployment checks isn’t the only thing fueling the worker shortage. Record numbers of Americans are leaving the labor force entirely.

In January 2020, 96 million American adults were outside the labor force. That shot up to 104 million in April of last year. But as businesses opened up and increased hours, there were still 100 million Americans not in the labor force. In other words, over the past year an additional 4 million workers exited the labor force. These people are not actively looking for work, are not on unemployment, and are not factored into the unemployment rate.

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