Don’t fall for employers’ whining about a ‘skills gap’
Businesses should stop moaning about labor shortages and raise wages.
View related content: Economics
There are about 6.5 million job openings in the U.S., a record high. The number of people looking for work without success is falling as well, and this combination means that the economy now has close to one active job seeker for every open job. The unemployment rate is below 4 percent — another indication that workers who are actively looking for jobs can find them.
Predictably, businesses are expressing concern. The National Federation of Independent Business survey reports that over one-third of small businesses have a job opening they can’t fill. Nearly one-quarter of all small-business owners claim that finding qualified workers is their “single most important business problem,” surpassing their objections to tax or regulatory burdens. Reflecting these worries, press reports are popping up about labor shortages.
How serious are these concerns?
First, this is a good problem to have. A labor market in which businesses complain about the difficulty of finding workers is welcome news following the hardships suffered by workers in the Great Recession and its aftermath. If employers are chasing employees rather than the other way around, fantastic.