Why is it so hard to find workers right now?

A man with a face mask walks out of a post office.
A customer walks out of a U.S. Post Office branch and under a banner advertising a job opening in Seattle. Businesses of many types report they can’t find people to hire right now, despite high unemployment numbers. 
Elaine Thompson | AP 2020

Many businesses across the country, from resorts to restaurants, say they are struggling to hire enough employees.

Some conservatives and businesses blame the enhanced unemployment benefits, saying they’re incentivizing and paying workers to stay home rather than return to the workplace. So far, 26 states have voted to end participation in the federal unemployment programs before the Sept. 6 cutoff. 

But many labor economists say it’s not that simple and that placing the blame on extra unemployment support ignores the bigger picture. They say a dearth of child care, poor transportation, lingering fears of workplace safety and poor wages are also factors.

Thursday, host Kerri Miller spoke with two experts who watch the job market about the complicated labor picture. 

Guests:

  • Erica Groshen is senior economics adviser at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and research fellow at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

  • Indivar Dutta-Gupta is the co-executive director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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