Sunday, April 25, 2021

Has the American Worker Lost the Desire to Hustle?

Today, thoughts of working on a modular home factory production line isn't the job many younger Americans want to grow old in. They also don't want to work in many other jobs where "hustle" is a requirement like restaurants or construction.

About 6 percent of the population, or 9.7 million Americans, are unemployed and actively looking for work. But many businesses say they are finding hiring extraordinarily hard. 42 percent of "small businesses surveyed said they had jobs they couldn't fill," compared with an average of 22 percent since 1974. 

Fear of contracting COVID is "clearly part of the problem." But there is also concern that workers have lost the desire to hustle. Instead of returning to their pre-COVID jobs, some workers are telling employers they're "better off unemployed."

I've seen that first hand at one of the restaurants I visit. A couple of their younger (under 40years old) wait staff takes time off as each new stimulus check arrives and they see their unemployment checks increase because they "fear catching" COVID-19.

At the beginning of the pandemic, "enhanced unemployment payments made some sense." Now, though, those payments — many months of extensions and a $300 weekly supplement — are keeping workers from taking jobs.

Everyone is hiring simultaneously and the factory job that used to pay $14 an hour jumps to $19 an hour during this supply crunch.

Related Article: Off-Site Construction Faces Worsening Labor Shortage

Modular housing factories and off-site construction, two industries overwhelmed with new contracts for housing, are hard hit. The younger worker, especially those under 30, have little desire to make sawdust, learn a skill that doesn't involve the Internet in some way, or start at the bottom and work up.

Some modular factories across the country have had fewer problems filling production line vacancies and would be willing to share with other factories how they do it but there is no forum where "problems from the trenches" of modular home factories can be discussed and shared.

In fact, problems from the trenches of the modular and off-site construction are often ignored while a dozen new ways to design a wall system, which adds higher costs for the new home buyer, are promoted ad nauseam. 

Too bad, as our industry desperately needs to find the magic bullet to help us grow. I recently received a comment saying what the modular factory should do to increase production is to put a second and possibly a third shift to work. 

We can't find enough young people to staff even one shift a day, where does this person think we will ever find enough workers for three shifts.

This brings me back to my original question, "Has the American worker lost the desire to hustle?"

Gary Fleisher is the Managing Director and contributor to the Modcoach Network and its affiliated blogs. Email at

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1 comment:

  1. It is not just our industry. Every business has been affected by this. "Afraid of catching COVID" should not be a reason to stay home and/or draw unemployment. The same people that say this are going out to dinner, going to the mall, hanging out with friends, etc. They are not on lock down at their homes. I wonder where this is headed?