Why there are so many unfilled jobs in Indiana
Fast food drive-thru wait lasts up to 30 minutes. Restaurants have reduce hours. And the pools don’t find enough lifeguards.
Even places that have increased wages are struggling to hire. During the summer. Governor Eric Holcomb tried to cut federal unemployment a few months earlier to get the hundreds of thousands of people receiving federal allowance to take some 116,000 jobs unfilled earlier this year. He was blocked by a lawsuit.
Federal benefits expired on September 4 across the country.
Indiana’s 4.1% unemployment rate held steady throughout the summer. However, this does not take into account people who have stopped looking for work. From July to August, the state lost 4,400 jobs.
Many other states also cut federal benefits early in hopes of getting people back to work. But economists have warned that the move could be futile because they don’t believe those benefits were the driving force behind the labor shortage.
The simple answer is people can’t or don’t want to work in the available jobs, said Kyle Anderson, an economist at IU Kelley School of Business.
But the story is more complicated. The reasons range from fear of COVID-19, home childcare needs, skills mismatch between worker and job, changing career interests and early retirement.
The pandemic has killed more than 600,000 Americans, plunged many more into financial crisis, forced businesses large and small to shut down, and prompted many American workers to reassess their lives.
As a result, many were unwilling to return to low-paying, stressful jobs with bad hours and no flexibility. Unemployment benefits have allowed people to take the time to reassess their careers, learn new skills and think about their priorities.
While data shows open jobs are higher than this time in 2019, the problem could be inflated, Anderson said.
“We hear a lot about retail, restaurant, fast food because a lot of people interact with these businesses,” he said. “… This may be overkill because of the visibility.”
While the most conspicuously absent workers were those in retail and food service, office workers are quitting at such an alarming rate that Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz coined the term “The Great Resignation.”
They leave the burn out. They give up to pursue their dreams. They stop to travel.
While the pandemic has exacerbated economic problems, the mismatch of jobs and workers is a long-term problem that began before the pandemic, Anderson said. The economy has changed dramatically with advancements in technology, and not all workers have kept pace.
In recent decades, manufacturing plants, for example, have gone from a large number of workers to a smaller number of workers with more technical skills, he said.
“Cities with manufacturing hubs in the ’70s,’ 80s, and ’90s, like Anderson and Kokomo, a lot of those cities are struggling with high unemployment,” he said.
All of this has also resulted in a decrease in the number of people working or looking for work, resulting in unfilled jobs.
Contact IndyStar reporter Binghui Huang at 317-385-1595 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Binghuihuang