Help Wanted: Inside America’s Labor Shortage

A look at the factors contributing to America’s long-term labor crisis.
March 24, 2024
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The United States has a lot of open jobs but not enough workers to fill them.

As of Feb. 2024, there are 9.5 million job openings but only 6.5 million unemployed workers, per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The industries most impacted by the labor shortage include law enforcement, manufacturing, healthcare, aviation, education, and childcare. 

Some of the leading factors contributing to the labor shortage include:

1. An aging workforce

More than 11,200 Americans will turn 65, the average retirement age, every day from 2024-2027, per CNBC.

2. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is booming in the United States. A record-breaking 5.5 million businesses were started in 2023, up from 5.0 million in 2022, per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

3. Social Media

According to Forbes, 2 million people made six figures from social media in 2020. Social media is now a viable career path for many Americans, especially as usage increases – the average American spends two hours and 25 minutes daily on social media.

4. Lack of childcare access

The pandemic forced many childcare providers to shut down. In Spring 2020, 3.5 million mothers left their jobs, driving the participation rate for working moms from 70% to 55%. Many moms haven’t returned to work, and the return-to-office mandates have exacerbated the problem by eliminating remote work options.

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The other alarming issue is many Americans don’t want to go back to work, per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans who lost their full-time job during the pandemic said they were only somewhat active or not active at all in searching for a new job. And it doesn’t help when almost a quarter (24%) indicated government aid packages incentivized them not actively to look.

Who would have thought that giving out free money would lower people's motivation to go to work?

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