Nobody Wants to Work Any More?

One of the big problems with America is the deep fear certain people have: somebody somewhere is getting something for free they shouldn’t be entitled to. “Sorry about the slow service. Nobody wants to work any more. The government’s paying them too much unemployment.”

Some businesses have a sign on the door like this. When I read this, I think, “You really mean they’re getting more than you want to pay them.”

I also think, “You’re an asshole.”

Let’s rephrase that. People don’t want to go back to their crappy jobs with incompetent and nasty supervisors, horrid customers, low pay, no job security, no benefits, and the threat of being fired for taking time off to take their kid to the doctor. They’re learning what living with a decent income feels like, and they’re unwilling to go back to scraping to get by. They’ve learned they’re a valuable commodity and aren’t going to settle any more. Those government payments have given them a little cushion to be able to pick and choose.

Nobody wants to work any more? It wasn’t long ago that people (by which I mean white people) were complaining that the illegals were taking the jobs. What happened to that? I assure you, those jobs out in the fields harvesting produce, cutting up chickens in factories, sorting vegetables for Birdseye – those jobs are still available.

A year off has given workers a chance to think about whether they really want to continue in their old line of work. People who worked from home now being told to get back to the office may have realized they really don’t want to. A new demographic of COVID long-haulers developed – people not sick enough to be in the hospital but not well enough to work. They need caretakers. So do children who may not be in school yet or whose parents got sick from COVID, or died – one or both. It’s women who wind up doing much of the caretaking – the same women who are supposed to get back to work at McBurger for $9.11/hour slinging cheap fries and high fructose corn syrup soda pop.

During the pandemic people made choices to move, to go into a new line of work, to go back to school. There are still supply-chain shortages. Some businesses didn’t survive.

All those “help wanted” job notices appeared at the same time as businesses reopened. And businesses were offering the same wages and working conditions as they were one year ago. Finding themselves a hot commodity, job seekers could pick and choose. They didn’t need to take the first offer. Further, people are sick of going through the motions of filling out applications, going through interviews, and then being told, “We’re making a decision Thursday and we’ll let you know.” They’re lying. They’ll NEVER let you know.

And perhaps people don’t want to work for anti-vaxxers. I can’t say this applies to all employers, but there does seem to be a certain symmetry. If you don’t care enough about others to get the vaccine, you’re a terrible employer and person.

The unemployment rate just dropped to 5.8% so clearly somebody wants to work, and is working. I noticed that certain restaurants, ones that are well-managed and value their employees and pay them decently, don’t seem to have an employee shortage.

Employees have leverage they’ve never enjoyed before, and they’re going to use it. If that means your low-paying, badly managed business can’t find enough employees, remember this: The one thing all your failures have in common is you.

Barbara Rice

Barbara Rice is anewscafe.com's administrative assistant. She grew up in Igo listening to the devil's music, hearing tales of WWII, and reading James Thurber and Mad Magazine while dreaming of travel to exotic lands. She graduated from Shasta High School, Shasta College, and San Francisco State University. After too many blistering Sacramento Valley summers, she's traded it all for the ocean breezes of Humboldt County. She's been told she's a bad influence and that makes her very happy. She tweets, travels, and spoils cats. There's a dance in the old dame yet.

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