Economy Jim Hightower

There’s No ‘Labor Shortage.’ There’s a Wage Shortage

To find workers, there’s a free-enterprise solution right at employers’ fingertips: raise pay, improve conditions, and show respect.
[Jared Rodriguez / Truthout]

By Jim Hightower | OtherWords

At a recent congressional hearing on America’s so-called “labor shortage,” megabanker Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, offered this insight: “People actually have a lot of money, and they don’t particularly feel like going back to work.”

Dimon is a billionaire who may be unaware that most people are living paycheck to paycheck. Since COVID-19 hit, millions have lost their jobs, savings, and even homes. Relief measures have helped, but ordinary people are not exactly lollygagging around the house, counting their cash.

Instead of listening to the uber-rich class ignorance of Dimon (who pocketed $35 million in pay last year), Congress ought to be listening to actual workers explain why they’re not rushing back to the jobs being offered by restaurant chains and such.

These workers would point out that there’s no labor shortage — there’s a wage shortage.

More fundamentally, there’s a fairness shortage.

It was not lost on restaurant workers, for example, that while millions of them were jobless last year, their corporate CEOs were grabbing millions, buying yachts, and living large. Yet more than half of laid-off restaurant workers couldn’t even get unemployment benefits because their wages had been too low to qualify.

Then there’s the high risk of COVID exposure for restaurant employees, an appalling level of sexual harassment in their workplace, and demeaning treatment from abusive bosses and customers.

No surprise, then, that more than half of employees said in a recent survey that they’re not going back to those jobs. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.

So rather than demanding that government officials force workers to return to the old exploitative system, corporate giants should try the free-enterprise solution right at their fingertips: Raise pay, improve conditions, and show respect.

In short, create a place where people want to work! For a straightforward view from workers themselves, go to OneFairWage.site.

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

3 comments

  1. I am lucky enough not to be an “American” and am disgusted by the “democratic Party” not only providing a pathetic $7.50 an hour to unemployed would-be workers, but that 25 States (ie half of the US states, I suppose Republican ones) are making laws refusing even to pay that, wanting the poor slaves to work for the even lower offers by the employers, who are treated as the victims. Is there no rising up against this “forced labor” as described by Richard D Wolff?????

  2. The preposterous nonsense about how “unemployment benefits” are causing a labor shortage omit several facts about unemployment eligibility. 1: You have to prove you are looking for work. 2: You cannot refuse a reasonable offer of employment and maintain eligibility. A restaurant worker (or any other worker) who turned down rehire from a job that laid them off during COVID would immediately lose unemployment benefits.

    The labor-shortage-due-to-government-payments story is well coordinated, and the usual bad actors are all mouthing it at once. But it isn’t true.

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