The labor shortage in the U.S. is real, and it's getting worse. According to the latest figures from the Labor Department, there are now about one million more job openings than workers seeking employment. Total job openings last month nationwide were 9.8 million, while there are 8.7 million people unemployed and seeking work. "It is completely unprecedented," says Andy Challenger, vice president of the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "This is very clear evidence of what you're hearing from every company in just about every industry, that they're facing an enormous labor shortage."
"There are just not enough people willing to take roles that are open, as the economy continues to reopen from COVID," he continues.
There are several factors keeping potential workers on the sidelines, including extra unemployment benefits implemented during the pandemic, and parents stuck without childcare due to many kids still being out of school. "Another factor we're seeing in all of our surveys is that employees are really reluctant to go back to a 9 to 5 in-the-office job," says Challenger. "They really liked the autonomy and the independence of being able to work from home during this period, if they worked at all."
But the gravy train is about to end for many of those still holding out on returning to work. Many states like Texas already ended the extra unemployment benefits, and those benefits are set to run out in other states this fall. "As kids are allowed to go back to school in person, and as these expanded unemployment benefits expire in September, this is going to cause a lot of Americans to move back into the workplace," says Challenger. "And that will hopefully resolve some of the labor shortage crisis that companies are experiencing."