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Why The Labor Shortage Isn’t Going Away


Why The Labor Shortage Isn’t Going Away

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

It’s getting hard to fill toxic low-pay jobs, and that’s not going to change.

The nature of work and the labor market are changing in ways few discern or perhaps are willing to discern because these changes are disrupting the exploitive system they want to remain unchanged. But refusing to discern change doesn’t stop change. It just leaves us unprepared to deal with fast-changing realities.

There are multiple systemic reasons why work and the labor force are changing: demographics, the rigged economy, extremes of inequality, limits of technology and “garbage in, garbage out” lifestyle / health issues.

Demographics. Take a glance at the chart below showing how the population of the U.S. changed between 2010 and 2020. (Chart courtesy of @Econimica). America’s population expanded by 22.5 million, but of this net increase only +1.2 million were under the age of 55; the vast majority– 21.4 million –were 55 or older.

Young people enter the workforce, the elderly retire. The smaller the population of young people, the smaller the workforce. The wrinkle here is that a great many more people 65 and older are continuing to work rather then retire in the U.S., extending their working life. This has stabilized the size of the workforce (around 160 million) even as the population has aged.

There are many reasons for this, including 1) older people with only Social Security retirement income need to keep working to pay their bills; 2) some people enjoy their work and don’t want to retire and 3) hybrid work and part-time work is a good fit for many healthy over-65 workers.

But a rapidly aging population brings with it a rapidly

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