The U.S. labor shortage is reaching a critical point



Raising wages is exactly what employers need to do. I’ve seen this game played for many years and as a former victim, I’m really unsympathetic to their whining. The correct interpretation of this article is “there aren’t enough employees who will work for the low wages we want to pay”. That desire for cheap labor is what has driven big business and the Chamber of Commerce push for both legal and illegal immigration in the face of across the board opposition by the American electorate. And people still wonder how Trump won? So now their media is engaged in trying to soften us up enough to not go berserk when they get ready to push Congress to ignore us and admit more migrants.

There are 96 million Americans not in the work force. If and when a serious dent is made that number, then maybe, just maybe I’ll listen to an appeal to open the border for more workers. Today, no.

Real wages of the working class have not risen since 1973; the benefits of the increases in their productivity since then have accrued almost exclusively to the top 1% so we are now treated to the view of Bezos enjoying his wealth while his managers grind down the workers in his warehouses and the drivers delivering his goods. Notice that the Washington Post doesn’t do stories about those Amazon employees and contractors. Bezos is the rule, not the exception among the top 1%'ers.


I agree with you for the most part. I’m an employer myself, and I think if employers aren’t willing to pay decent wages, they need to do the work themselves.

You and I differ about the top 1%. I don’t resent them at all. But I do agree with you that the mainstream media doesn’t report on wages and conditions at places like Amazon. They’re in bed together, and share the same ideology.


Yup. We need to massively increase taxes on the rich and support labor unions and workers’ rights to try to restore some balance to the problem of income and wealth inequality.


And given more time, we’ll start to see a migration between where the jobs are and where people are paid less, and still unemployed. Many parts of the country still have limited prospects.


What has this article to do with open borders? The shortage in the work force is for skilled labor.

Truck drivers are in perilously low supply, Silicon Valley continues to struggle to fill vacancies, and employers across the grid are coping with a skills mismatch as the economy edges ever closer to full employment.

“Business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”

Folks crossing the border are more likely to be taking unskilled service industry or agricultural jobs than anything else. One of my friends owns a apple packing and distribution company, and she has a devil of a time finding Americans who will reliably show up for work, even though the pay is good, so she hires Jamaicans.


Do you have any idea what being a long distance truck driver entails? Obviously not… it’s a s— job for which companies typically only want to pay $50k per year in wages. Training costs at least $7k, often more and that almost always comes out of the trainee driver’s pocket one way or another. Long distance drivers can spend days, weeks, even months away from their families. They can get fat sitting 11 hours a day and eating the poor food available at the truck stops. They have to be alert every dang minute they’re out on the road because they’re riding in the fuselage of up to 80 tons of deadweight that will crush anything and everything in its path if it is ever allowed to go out of control. It is a very stressful job, there is even a higher fatality rate for it than there is for law enforcement officers; consequently heart disease, diabetes and divorce run high in its ranks. For $50k per year? I wouldn’t ever dream of touching that. But if they had shoved enough more money at it several years ago, I might have considered it if I didn’t already have my career change away from IT in place. Every time I saw a “Drivers Wanted” sign, I’d think they want drivers for only $50k per year to put up with that stressful job. Now they’re screaming like stuck pigs because they have to pay more money, hey it’s supply and demand buddy. You offer a high stress job, you better be willing to pay for it.

I changed careers out of IT work because of companies’ insistence on paying our H1-B replacements a lot less than we were making. I saw that train coming for my field several years back and got out before those companies got swarmed with them and most of the IT folks left behind got laid off with no place to go. Most of them were older than me, some close to retirement age with families in tow depending on them. Really a bad picture there. Changing careers was one of more difficult things I’ve done in my life, but now I’m in a field that can’t be outsourced and can’t be done by a robot anytime soon and pays better than truck driving.

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Regarding Silicon Valley, the problem isn’t whether there are enough workers, it’s whether there are enough workers who are willing to put up with the insanely high costs of living for a shot at a salary that would be considered fabulous in flyover country, but not good for much more than a one bedroom bandbox apartment there in the famous Valley. Really only a good environment for young single men willing to put in an insane number of hours week in, week out, month in, month out. Family men and women want to leave there as quickly as they can, but many companies won’t go where they are to hire them. And why would that be? Maybe it’s because family men and women don’t come that cheap because they got families to raise and they want to live in houses with yards.

Yes this is an open borders issue … even at the low end. Because there are all levels of workers involved. Like I said, make a dent in that 96 million Americans not in the work force and I’ll come to the table about immigration. Don’t need unions or higher taxes on the wealthy, just need to cut immigration hard and enforce E-Verify with jail sentences, and you’ll see that dent and you’ll see working class workers get the higher wages that should have been coming to them already. Like I said, supply and demand. But employers absolutely hate having to deal with that.


I agree with you that workers wages have been stagnant and that this may be the market correction that is needed to get employers to raise wages as the supply of skilled labor gets scarce. I say, “yes” to that and “to heck” with the fear mongering about prices going up in order to maintain corporate profits. If that happens, then I hope boycotts will be forthcoming.

What I don’t understand is how any of that is going to benefit the 96 million Americans who are unqualified for jobs as truck drivers or software engineers? Maybe I am missing something, but one would think that if they were already capable of doing those jobs, there wouldn’t be a storage of skilled labor.

I honestly don’t see how this is a border issue except for the 96 million unskilled American workers who might have to compete for the lowest level jobs with illegal immigrants. On the other hand, perhaps I am being bigoted in assuming that most illegal immigrants are unskilled labor.



OK…help me out here…if we have 96 million people not in the workforce…there are 320 million people in the US…that includes women and children…so how come we only have 4% unemployment??


In what way will that help anyone else?


Because the unemployment number only counts those who are actively looking for work. If a person isn’t looking, he’s not counted.


To my observation, you’re right. But a lot of labor in the U.S. is “unskilled” at least at first. Millions of people acquire their skills on the job.


So I assume that would also include retirees and those who have physical or mental disabilities that would prevent them from working…that would drop the number significantly I suspect


Not many Salvadoran or Mexican mathematicians or computer programmers.

But we can set up training schools here for the 96 million…


Then we should go back to having the USPS deliver them for a lot more like Trump wants.

Too bad they lost the Amazon business because of Trump. Some deal maker.


Don’t other countries have IT programmers?


Mexican IT programmers don’t climb the wall.


No because you just got through saying they’re not too many of them. :wink:


It could very well help future generations by leaving them less debt.

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