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October 8, 2021

Where Are All the Workers?

Another bad jobs report is a marker in a struggling economy with inflation on the rise.

Who are all these “experts” who keep predicting big employment gains each month? Who are all these “experts” who keep telling us sky-high inflation is “transitory”? Who are all these “experts” who insist massive new government spending to “Build Back Better” will do anything different than last year’s massive government spending — exacerbate unemployment, disrupt the supply chain, and cause more inflation?

Joe Biden is president, after all, and expectations for all of these things should be drastically lowered accordingly.

Yet here we are with another disappointing jobs report and another warning about inflation that somehow defied the predictions of the “experts.”

September’s jobs report was supposed to show a gain of 500,000 jobs last month. It was actually just 194,000. The headline unemployment rate fell to 4.8% instead of the expected 5.1%, while the fuller measure is 8.5%. Those numbers are partly because of upward revisions to previous jobs reports (good news), but also primarily because at least five million people are now permanently out of the workforce (bad news). They’re not even looking for work, which leaves them out of the report.

Where are all the workers? The U.S. economy, after 18 months of 15 days to slow the spread, still has five million fewer workers than in February 2020. Nearly three million people have been out of work for at least six months. Enhanced unemployment benefits finally ended everywhere last month, and employers are sharply raising wages and offering all kinds of other benefits in a bid to retain and attract workers. Yet there are nearly 11 million job openings.

What gives?

It could be that the COVID Delta surge played a role. Much of the country saw increased cases and deaths, and there was some policy regression that hindered job growth. According to Indeed, a job-search website, survey respondents’ number one reason for avoiding the workforce is fear of catching COVID.

Perhaps a lot of these missing workers are parents staying home with kids who can’t go to school. Whether schools have been shuttered entirely or on a wretched “hybrid” system of going to school only on some days of the week, parents — many of them single moms — are left with young kids at home and thus are unable to return to work.

But hey, at least Joe Biden in July began incentivizing parents with his new gimmick of sending them direct payments for the child tax credit. That’s one of many government benefits that make staying home and out of the workforce more doable.

Meanwhile, vaccines might be saving lives, but they’re killing jobs. Well, at least mandating vaccines is. Businesses are desperate for workers, but company after company, hospital after hospital, is firing unvaccinated workers, regardless of natural immunity or any other consideration. Those newly unemployed folks offset some gains.

According to The Washington Post, much of this can be blamed on “systemic racism.” Though the story lists myriad reasons that have nothing to do with discrimination, the Post says without evidence, “Discrimination and biases also seep into the hiring process, holding back employment for workers of color.” Additionally, the Post tells us without any explanation or context, “The coronavirus has killed more Black Americans than those in any other racial group.” One word not anywhere in the Post’s story: vaccination. Blacks have the lowest vaccination rate, and that, again, is playing a big role in hiring and firing, not to mention death rate.

The economy runs on people, and without people working, it sputters. Massive disruptions in the supply chain are largely caused by a lack of workers. This makes the products that are available more expensive — i.e., inflation.

A new report on inflation, which is at a 30-year high since Biden took office and was 5.3% in August, estimates that higher prices are costing the average family an extra $175 per month. This is largely because grocery bills have skyrocketed and gas prices just hit a seven-year high. That spending blows a major hole in most family budgets, and millions are having a hard time making ends meet.

“The Federal Reserve has argued that inflation will recede to just above its 2% target by 2022,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Nonetheless, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, asked last week whether inflation is now broader and more structural than earlier this year, responded, ‘Yes, I think it’s fair to say that it is.’”

Thank heaven for the experts.

Finally, Biden promised not to raise taxes on the middle class. He might be able to win over media “fact-checkers” because he hasn’t raised income tax rates, but inflation is a huge tax hike on the middle class, and his policies are causing it. And if he succeeds in raising corporate taxes or the higher individual rates paid by most small-business owners, you can count that as another tax hike for workers — the dishonest spin of Jen Psaki notwithstanding.

We’ve written more than once regarding how Joe Biden is channeling Jimmy Carter’s malaise. Economic stagnation, inflation, energy troubles, foreign policy crises, American decline — all of those things defined Carter’s presidency and now, apparently, Biden’s. Even if the experts tell us things will get better any minute now.

Update: A day after we published this, The Wall Street Journal corroborated our assertion about school closures playing a role:

Many workers displaced by last year’s pandemic, especially women, have yet to return to the labor market, acting as a check against stronger job growth. And some women who did return haven’t been able to stay in the job as the Delta variant of Covid-19 raised fears and scrambled child-care plans. In September, women lost 26,000 payroll jobs.

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