Back to ‘Normal’ Means Getting Back to Work

We’ve all seen the signs. Drive through any community in our region and there are “Help wanted,” “We’re hiring,” and even “Signing bonus!” signs everywhere. Employers are desperate for workers as the economy reopens, and have been for months, as April’s employment numbers show.

U.S. employers posted 9.3 million job openings in April — a record, and an increase of 12 percent from the 8.3 million openings counted in March.

And yet, employers were able to hire only 6.1 million people, up just 1 percent from March, according to the Labor Department.

“More than a year after horrific job losses and wage cuts, job seekers have a strong hand in the labor market again. Demand for workers is surging as the broader economy starts to emerge from the pandemic,” said Nick Bunker, director of the Hiring Lab. “At the same time, supply is restrained as workers are slow to find their post-pandemic normal. The result is a labor market that has snapped back quicker than many expected.”

There is a little more going on here than people just being “slow to find their post-pandemic normal.” The April report also shows the number of American workers who QUIT their jobs rose to 11 percent in that month. That’s the highest figure for that statistic in records that go back to 2000.

Capable people feel as though they can be choosy right now — and some believe one of their choices is simply to not work. Of course, there is some responsibility on the part of employers to do their best to provide a fair wage, good benefits, and a good work environment — to the degree they are able — but the bottom line is that work is, well, work.

Earning that fair wage is going to mean showing up when you’ve been given the midnight shift, or you know there might be a particularly challenging day ahead. It’s going to mean you have to get off the couch, and that, yes, a certain portion of your schedule will belong to an employer, in exchange for that paycheck.

It is baffling that must be explained to some folks, but returning to that understanding is one bit of PRE-pandemic normal we can’t get back fast enough.


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