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Franklin Graham: One Political Party Is to Blame for People Avoiding ‘Hard Work’

A Closer Look at the Labor Shortage

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, about 5.3 million fewer Americans are now in the job market. Experts cite a variety of reasons, including fears of contracting COVID, child-care and remote-education responsibilities, early retirements, shifting industries, relocations, and expanded unemployment benefits.

The exact role of those expanded benefits is under debate, however, especially with so many other factors at play. Economist John Leer says the extra payments are “definitely a factor,” while Nick Bunker of Indeed.com says they’re “not the biggest issue.” An estimated 11.2 million American workers lost some type of federal unemployment benefit as of Monday.

An end to labor shortages could take several years, economists say. Employers admit they’re facing an uphill battle. “Finding people that want to work in an office has become increasingly difficult,” Florida CEO Mark Berg tells USA Today.

Meanwhile, potential workers say they’re juggling many needs during a stressful time. Matt Parker, who was furloughed during the pandemic, explains that his family moved to a more affordable state so he can stay home with their toddler. Although he admits feeling “insecurity” about being out of the workforce, he says, “It’s not like I’m choosing to be lazy. I’m taking care of my child, and I know it’s the right thing to do.”

According to the Labor Department’s August jobs report, the U.S. economy created just 235,000 jobs last month, far fewer than the projected 750,000. The emergence of the COVID delta variant played a big role, experts say, by affecting reopening policies in many cities and schools.