Atlanta, GA

The Reasons for America's Labor Shortage Aren't What You Think

Rev. Paul J. Bern

The Alleged Worker Shortage Here in the US

Or, why we need to increase wages if we ever want to resuscitate the economy

(Luke 10: 7) by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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The World Needs YouRev. Paul J. Bern

Here you have it in a nutshell – national strike. That’s what the US economy is facing. That’s why people aren’t working. They’re just not calling it a strike. People are fed up to here with dull, dead-end jobs that serve no useful purpose except to make someone rich. People are staying home and drawing unemployment, and some have started side businesses to replace their old incomes. It’s just that nobody is calling it for what it is – a peaceful revolt within the American workplace.

There can be no room for doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the US economy. It is much the same the world over, with the shipping industry having nearly been ground to a halt because the workers at the sea ports worldwide all have Covid. Education here in America has been crippled for the same reasons. And so, people have begun working and learning from home. Here we are many months down the road and we find out that working from home is far preferable to the old way of doing things (the jury is still out on education so I will decline to comment).

The small businesses that survived the Covid pandemic are having a terrible time finding workers. The big businesses can’t get people back to the office after having tasted freedom from the office and from those horrible daily commutes. At the rate people are quitting their jobs, I foresee a complete bust in commercial real estate, with the property managers unable to find tenants. There’s no way to tell how much such a scenario would affect the stock market, but the outcome would be severe.

I can see only one thing that would alleviate our current situation, and that would be to raise the minimum wage at the federal level. Here in Atlanta, Ga. where I currently reside, the minimum wage is still stuck at a paltry $7.25 per hour. I challenge anybody reading this posting to go and try to live on that for a month. There’s no way possible to get people back to work unless the business community resolves to pay fair wages. The Bible says in Luke 10: 7, “The workman is worth their wages”. That means employers are charged by God with paying a fair wage, and this is currently not the case throughout the world, starting with the US and cascading on down. Since the US is supposed to be the greatest country in the world, we’re the ones who should be setting a good example, and we’ve done a terrible job.

So now let me ask all you business owners and corporate CEO’s out there: Are you having trouble finding workers? What is the starting wage for entry level workers at your business? If it’s anything less than, say, $12-15 dollars per hour, or $7 per hour for tipped employees (yeah, $7.00, not $2.00 like it is currently), then it’s no wonder that any business owner would have difficulty hiring qualified workers. It is a proven fact that raising wages would benefit the whole population. The problem with that is, a tiny minority of the obscenely wealthy continues to hoard all the wealth they can at the expense of everyone else. So the only thing that all you rich people have to do is pay a living wage or face a revolt. Period, end of story.

What will it take to lend some weight to the premise that people here in America are underpaid? It’s already gotten started in the form of mass numbers of people quitting their jobs. When we combine that with the fact that many others who are laid off have not returned to their former jobs, America truly suffers from a dearth of workers. The problem with that is that the jobs nobody wants are usually the lowest paid or the most stressful. So, the business community will have to make up its mind to start paying fair wages. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to hire and retain new employees, especially for small family-owned establishments.

So at the end of the day, the worker shortage may well have been caused by Covid-19, but the dearth of jobs have resulted from the collective unwillingness to pay some decent wages. I’m not trying to launch some get-rich-scheme, but American workers do deserve to have a livelihood that pays enough for a dignified way of living. And everybody out there deserves at least with that much.

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I am Rev. Paul J. Bern, a well-known Web pastor at the Social Gospel Worship & Learning Center in Atlanta, Ga., and regular blogger on The Social Gospel Blog on Medium, and others. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I began my writing and blogging career in 2010 after becoming temporarily disabled in 2008 due to a stroke, a pacemaker implant plus some other health issues. Prior to that occurrence, I was a long-time computer/IT professional and computer shop owner (21 years altogether). I also own the website The Social Gospel Worship and Learning Center (https://social-gospel.net). I can be reached by email at webpreacher@pcmatl.org.

Atlanta, GA
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