In a world economy that has seen labor's share of income drop for generations, this labor shortage could provide some restored leverage for both white and blue collar workers," writes Joel Kotkin in Newsweek.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left pain and tragedy in its wake. But it has also created a unique opportunity to address the country’s persistent class divides, thanks to a persistent lack of labor resulting from the pandemic. In a world economy that has seen labor’s share of income drop for generations, this labor shortage could provide some restored leverage for both white and blue collar workers.
The labor shortage was a reversal from the earlier impact of the pandemic on labor. Initially, COVID-19 devastated the working class and parts of the private sector middle class; the harsh lockdowns imposed in many places caused upwards of one third of small businesses to close down permanently and decimated the service industry.
But as the economy has recovered, despite high unemployment over 6 percent and over 8 million fewer positions, there’s a shortage of workers, including 7.4 million unfilled jobs. And it’s not relegated to any one industry. Companies like John Deere, its order book strong due to a worldwide surge in commodity prices, are struggling to find workers willing to take jobs in its Iowa factories, a phenomenon common across the industrial economy. We’re seeing a massive shortage of virtually every kind of labor, including blue collar jobs. What this means is that companies have to work harder to attract workers; even fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s are offering low end service workers signing bonuses, higher wages and more humane working conditions.