Labor shortage creates leverage for workers | Local News


Many employees appreciated something they seldom felt in American companies – a sense of empowerment and perhaps appreciation.

Nothing like a serious shortage of manpower to soften hearts and open the portfolio of executives.

Most companies, large and small, have made efforts to increase the wages and benefits of their employees. Companies that thought that offering flexible hours to help workers balance work and life was a terrible idea in the past have decided it is a great idea now.

In a sense, that’s a math for all the companies that in recent years have seen their profits soar to record highs but have continued to pay their workers lagging behind inflation.

Minnesota-based Target is widely regarded as a pretty good and conscientious company when it comes to employees and civic engagement. But management at a Michigan Target distribution center may not have understood that they were very kind to workers.

Employees had asked for a raise during busy vacation weeks and Target said they would add $ 2 an hour for a two-week period. Employees were disappointed with the amount of the temporary increase. But the day after the announcement, management added insult to injury by handing out fortune cookies to employees who seemed to mock the meager increases.

Some of the messages read: “I see money in your future; it’s not yours though. Another: “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.”

Target officials gave an implausible response to criticism of cookies saying they just wanted to provide snacks for workers and had no part in what was written about the fortunes.

The worker shortage is a headache for everyone from employers to anyone who sees delays in orders, shortages on store shelves and longer waits in restaurants.

There are several factors behind the shortage, starting with the fact that many older workers are retiring and there are fewer young people, thanks to lower birth rates and steep cuts. the number of migrant workers. Much has been said about the fact that bonus money for unemployment benefits prevents people from working. Economists say the extra money has had an impact on worker shortages, but not as much as people might think. Since the end of additional unemployment, there has been no indication of a sharp increase in the number of people re-entering the labor market.

Part of the labor shortage is due to child care expenses which cost more than many jobs.

A more important factor, however, seems to be that people are simply more likely to bail out jobs that they think don’t pay them enough or that they just hate. The restaurant industry had a huge turnover rate before the pandemic – 79% – but now there is 131% turnover.

The Labor Department reports that the number of people who left their jobs reached a record 4.3 million in August. These resignations have occurred almost entirely in lower-paying industries, and not in sectors such as construction, transportation or professional jobs.

Still, people leaving a job are not a bad sign, unless you are the employer who is losing workers. Most people who leave an existing job have a better job in sight.

The new jobs landscape will be in turmoil for a while, but it looks like the future – fortune cookies aside – is leaning towards workers making gains after many years of delay.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at [email protected] or 507-344-6383.


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