"Something's rotten in the state of Denmark." I remember my father saying that when something was either too good to be true or when he read a headline that made absolutely no sense.
If he were alive today, he would say something's definitely rotten about the nation's labor shortage, especially the offsite construction labor shortage.
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, and two states had little change. The national unemployment rate, 6.3 percent in January 2021, fell by 0.4 percentage point over the month, but was 2.8 points higher than in January 2020.
As of February '21, 9.97 million people were unemployed but The Labor Department said total continuing jobless benefit claims — a proxy for how many people are getting benefits — rose sharply to 20.4 million as of Jan. 23.
So let's do the math. 9,970,000 people in the US were unemployed but 20,400,000 were getting unemployment benefits. That means more than 10,000,000 people are getting unemployment benefits than are employed.
And we wonder why the offsite construction industry can't find laborers? Truth be told, 10.0M can't afford to give up their unemployment benefits and take one of the positions in our factories.
And we're not alone. Here are just some of this morning's headlines from across the US:
- Labor shortage could stunt NE Indiana's economic recovery
- Tallahassee business owners worry about impacts of labor shortage
- Maryland crab industry desperate for worker visas
- Daytona Beach restaurant owners closing doors, limiting hours due to staffing shortage
- 'Everybody's tired.' What a staff shortage means for Louisville restaurants and diners
The "something rotten in Denmark" this time is the way unemployment works. How quickly could every job in the US be filled if just those extra 10 million people receiving benefits for not working simply stopped getting them?
And yes, I know every situation is different and sometimes those benefits can make all the difference to those receiving them. But someone has to begin wondering why the majority of those 10,000,000 people are receiving benefits that shouldn't get them.
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