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Thoughts on Labor Shortage September 26, 2022

Posted by shaferfinancial in workers.
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My son worked this summer in several restaurants. He worked 60-70 hours a week in order to save enough to head to Europe for a few months. He did well. Averaged over $26 hour. He entertained working in retail and was offered $16-$18 hour. Saw the other day that McDonalds is paying $20 hour in my area. His restaurant work was hard work, made harder by bad management (except Applebee’s) and a small number of crazy customers. In many ways he should have been an ideal employee for restaurant managers. He was motivated to make money, eager, smart, and customer focused. However, one restaurant labeled him as a poor team player, got rid of him and closed for lack of employees the next week. Took him 24 hours to get another job. Apparently, he upset some people by being eager to wait tables and do customer service (had the highest tip percentage of all servers), but questioned some decisions being made. Had to have a discussion with him about keeping his mouth shut and why some managers couldn’t handle a lowly employee criticising decisions.

After observing my son and his friends there is a different vibe from young workers. Its not that they won’t work hard. But the days of saying “do it because I told you to” are long gone. Managers have to be less autocratic. The labor pool has power they haven’t had since the 1960s-70s. Businesses need to accept that. Jobs that could be automated have pretty much been. (Still some more to come, but the majority of the change has occurred) I think this is a time of great change and the young workers are going to benefit mightily from it. Demographics will dictate it going forward. The incoming worker demographic is the smallest since the baby boomers (still not as bad as Europe, Russia, China, etc.) Admittedly I am talking about the bottom set of jobs; restaurant work. I think the attitude though and a different, less permanent oriented work ethic is here to stay.

Think that businesses/government need to rethink their systems for time off and retirement savings. 401Ks make little sense to these young workers. They are much more experiential than step onto the treadmill types. They will work hard, but then leave when they want. They recognize loyalty is a two way street and as such will not put up with typical employer attitudes toward workers. They have seen their parents get laid off, lose jobs, get divorced, etc. and think in much more temporary ways. They fully expect to do a variety of jobs in a variety of industries. All this will add up to a interesting next couple decades. What it means is anybodies guess, but it will be different than how earlier generations build there lives.