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Where Have All The Workers Gone?
I just got done reading an interesting article, similar to articles that have been popping up with increasing frequency:
I suppose basic services are, to some extent, in the eyes of the beholder. I can offer a recent example from my own life. Every Friday for dinner we have salmon, which we buy at a local Whole Foods. I’ve been noticing staffing shortages there for several months, as well as the sign at the door begging for new hires: “every position”. For the last month the staffing shortage has been quite apparent at the fish counter, so last week I asked the young man who waited on me, ‘Hey, are you guys shorthanded these days?’ He responded in the affirmative, adding that they should have 5 people but only have 2.
The article linked above offers impressionistic examples from several sectors, but here’s how it begins:
Where did all the workers go? That is a great mystery that continues to be unsolved. All over America, businesses are literally hiring anyone with a pulse and there are “help wanted” signs all over the place. But the number of people that are actually working is still close to four million below the pre-pandemic peak. What happened to all of those extra workers? They certainly aren’t on unemployment, because claims for unemployment benefits are the lowest that we have seen “in decades”. So where are they? It is almost as if millions upon millions of people have disappeared from the system completely over the past couple of years.
The article starts with major banks having to close local branches. It then moves on to hospitals. It turns out that, despite the flood of government Covid money, the cost of hiring new staff to replace those who are simply quitting is driving some hospitals into bankrupty:
Without enough qualified personnel, many hospitals are having a really difficult time delivering basic services right in the middle of this pandemic, and the cost of hiring replacements has even pushed some facilities into bankruptcy…
The specific example given is Watsonville Community Hospital (the third largest employer in Watsonville, in an area I’m somewhat familiar with.
Because there is such a lack of nurses, any that become available are often the subject of bidding wars, and those with the biggest checkbooks end up winning…
Note that the Monterey Bay area is not a bad place to live and work in. I really doubt that the nurses are all leaving to work in San Francisco or San Jose, where the commutes would be far more onerous. There are places these people can go where they will be treated well and won’t face mandates.
Interestingly, the health care industry is the focus of one of Karl Denninger’s predictions for 2022:
The Medical Complex has a serious problem on their hands - both in credibility and cost. Sure, some will be ok, but not much of it. I suspect this trend is generational and may not clear for a decade or more. It will be quite interesting to see the screaming and whining that comes out of these folks as their naked swimming becomes exposed for all, and it will. This is the year it becomes apparent to enough people to matter. Since this is 20% of the economy, one dollar in five, its an economic earthquake that will send shockwaves through colleges, government agencies and businesses.
The author then moves on to the air travel industry—and we’ve just seen what a mess that is. However, he suggests reasons to expect matters to get worse, rather than better:
I specifically warned that a lot of these hospitals in blue states were going to be facing severe personnel shortages as a result of the absurd mandates that were being imposed.
Meanwhile, patients just continue to pour into our hospitals at an alarming rate. …
And staffing shortages are likely to continue to intensify, because one recent survey found that a lot more nurses plan to leave their posts in the months ahead…
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States grew at the slowest pace ever recorded during the 12 months ending on July 1st…
America’s population grew 0.1% this year, the lowest rate on record, according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday that show how the pandemic is changing the country’s demographic contours.
The U.S. added just 393,000 people in the year that ended July 1 for a total population of 331.9 million.
When the final numbers come out for the full year of 2021, I believe that they will show a significant population decline for the nation as a whole.
When you add all this to the continuing and intensifying economic (think: inflation), social, geopolitical and political turmoil facing the country, we’re looking at a rough ride—probably for years to come. Karl Denninger begins and ends his post today on predictions:
2021: The Year In Review, And A Wee Light In The Tunnel*
Oh, as for that wee light in the tunnel referenced up top?
IT'S A TRAIN.
I don’t think I’d want to bet against him on that.