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Sat Jan 11, 2020, 02:35 AM

For two years now the US has had more job openings than people looking for work

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=pTmQ

This gets to something I find frustrating about the political system: we're about to go into a nearly year-long election season in which everyone from both parties will talk about how many jobs they are going to create, as if lack of jobs were a problem right now. There are currently nearly 8 million open jobs, as compared to about 6 million people looking for work. Even if we solved the skills-and-location mismatches that are so famous (the jobs offered are neither in coal mining nor in West Virginia), we literally don't have enough people to do the things the economy wants done right now.

This gets to a problem we never talk about and need to. The big obstacle with things like massive infrastructure campaigns or single payer healthcare or universal childcare is not the money -- we can get the money. But we don't actually have several million construction workers sitting around waiting to do something. Nor do we have several million RNs and med techs sitting around, nor several million childcare workers. Even if we came up with the money, we would have to find the workers to actually do those things, and they don't exist.

Infrastructure is probably the clearest example, and it's outlined most clearly by the Strong Towns people. To take the example of Illinois, the state needs to be spending $21 billion a year (that's the most optimistic estimate) simply to keep its existing infrastructure from falling apart. It's not spending anywhere near that (its entire state annual budget is $56 billion, the entire state GDP is $650 billion). Illinois is simply not going to spend that much money on infrastructure, but even so that isn't the real problem. If Illinois had an infinite source of money, it wouldn't change the fact that illinois only has 240,000 jobless people looking for work, and nearly none of them are construction workers.

We need to be importing workers, rapidly, but it's political suicide to say that.

12 replies, 1059 views

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Reply For two years now the US has had more job openings than people looking for work (Original post)
Recursion Jan 11 OP
msongs Jan 11 #1
Recursion Jan 11 #3
Bettie Jan 11 #11
Recursion Jan 11 #12
Poiuyt Jan 11 #2
Recursion Jan 11 #4
Dulcinea Jan 11 #5
Paka Jan 11 #6
hamsterjill Jan 11 #8
GoCubsGo Jan 11 #9
Efilroft Sul Jan 11 #10
llmart Jan 11 #7

Response to Recursion (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 02:50 AM

1. supply/demand says not enuff workers then pay will go way up lol as if we have a free job market nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 04:56 AM

3. And, in fact, we're in a period of unprecedented wage growth

So the model seems to check out there. (Remember the supply-demand model only predicts nominal wage growth, which we're seeing a lot of.)

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Response to Recursion (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 08:55 AM

11. I'm not sure who you are talking to

but everyone I know gets a 1-3% raise annually, IF the company decides to give raises.

That doesn't even really cover how much the cost of things goes up annually.

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Response to Bettie (Reply #11)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 09:00 AM

12. The biggest gains have happened for the poorest workers

Part of the political frustration of the past few years is that the poorest workers have seen relatively large gains whereas middle income workers have seen much smaller gains.

But, yeah, cost of living: supply and demand only guarantees that nominal wages (the actual dollar amount) goes up, not real wages (what you can actually buy). And while 2014-2016 saw real wages going up, since then we've seen inflation keeping pace with nominal increases.

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 03:26 AM

2. Welcome to Walmart!

Many of the available jobs do not pay a decent wage.

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Response to Poiuyt (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 04:57 AM

4. That's not where the vacancies are though

And any analysis that ignores the unprecedented wage growth of the past 5 years isn't being honest.

I mean, just to take your WalMart example, they're in the process of moving to at least $13/hour nationwide.

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 06:53 AM

5. Sorry, not buying it.

I have over 30 years of work experience & 2 degrees & live in a major metro area. I can't even get an interview. Of course, I'm female & 54 years old. Age discrimination is very much alive & well. If companies want to fill these vacancies, they need to look past millennials.

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Response to Dulcinea (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 06:59 AM

6. I faced that same situation at age 59.

I finally accepted the inevitable and went back to Africa and found a volunteer slot that helped get me by until I took early retirement at 62. That was 20 years ago and it was brutal even then.

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Response to Dulcinea (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 08:35 AM

8. Bingo!!!

There’s nothing worth shit that I’ve found either. Minimum wage, part time and no benefits. The big thing in my area is working for the staffing agencies. They want to be able to call you up and expect you to be on a job in two hours, making $10 an hour, have to pay for parking, and want you to be grateful. Total bullshit that jobs like this even count as “jobs”.

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Response to Dulcinea (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 08:50 AM

9. Same here.

I'm a bit older, but it's the same situation, and I'm willing to move. I gave up trying to a job in my field a long time ago. If you are over 45, forget it. All that's out there are minimum wage retail/grocery jobs--unless you are willing to spend money you don't have to re-train for computer jobs.

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Response to Dulcinea (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 08:53 AM

10. The people who want us to work until age 70 are the same folks laying us off when we turn 50.

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2020, 07:02 AM

7. There was someone who thought about this...

She had a proposal to assist people in retraining for the manufacturing/coal mining jobs that are disappearing. Millions of people liked her proposal. Millions of people voted for her. Millions of others, many of them who either lost their jobs or saw them disappear, chose the con artist because he had zero experience in government and the teevee touted his "successful business acumen".

There's an old saying - something about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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