Where Are the Workers? Asked and...Answered.

Let's visit about the Labor Shortage.  A couple of weeks ago I was at an event organized by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. It is one Now Hiring of the largest business groups in the nation. The breakfast was designed to outline their legislative wish list for 2022.

During the Q & A session one business person asked this: “Everywhere you look there are businesses looking for workers but they are not there.  Where have these workers…gone?”

Well, the answer is complex but let’s take a shot but I can tell you it all starts with...money.

An MIT and CNBC analysis earlier this year found that even a $15 minimum wage wouldn't be a living wage for many families. Anecdotally, businesses paying higher wages haven't struggled as much with labor shortages and understaffing.

Show me the money…is what we’re hearing.

Man BoredThe love, hate your job issue is real. According to an Indeed survey of about 1,000 people who "voluntarily resigned from at least two jobs since March 2020," most of them (92%) said "the pandemic made them feel life is too short to stay in a job they weren't passionate about."

Flexibility is important:  One of the industries feeling the most pain is leisure and hospitality. Even if employers in that sector increase wages, they may have trouble finding workers because those jobs have to be done in person…and there isn’t much flexibility in scheduling.

According to one survey of 10,000 knowledge workers from Future Forum, workers want flexibility in both location and schedule.

Child care is an issue. First will the children be safe and secondly child care is so expensive that many parents have done the math and it makes more sense to stay home than  pay child care costs that may be more than their mortgage payment.

Fear of illness: As the pandemic stretches on…many workers just don’t want to chance getting sick. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that, in November, 1.2 million people didn't look for work because of the pandemic. In addition, some workers may be quitting or staying out of work because they're hesitant to get the vaccine, as more businesses put requirements in place.

Early Retirement: More workers have…also…retired early…we covered that moments ago…and now some may want to come back into the workforce…time will tell.

Immigration is also a root cause of the shortage: There are about 1.2 million adult foreign workers or work-eligible immigrants who are just not here because of the restrictions that have been imposed during the pandemic.

Job Disconnect: There is also a job disconnect between available workers and the jobs that are open. 48% of jobseekers surveyed by FlexJob said that they're frustrated with the job search, because they weren't finding the right positions — and the ones that are open pay too low.  Back to pay again.

Job burnout is another factor: Some workers are resigning because of burnout, putting added stress on employers and the remaining employees. Workers are taking on extra duties as companies struggle to fill positions, leading these workers to also feel burned out.

Technology is also to blame:  Qualified workers might be applying for roles that fit them, but hiring managers don't even know. Some Employment Application are getting filtered out by hiring software. As the Wall Street Journal first reported, a Harvard Business School study found that over 10 million workers are filtered out by hiring software.

Employers also filter out workers because of preexisting biases and inequities.

Roughly 70 million workers don't have a college degree, but are known as "STARS" — Skilled Through Alternative Routes. They account for two-thirds of American workers, but many may be filtered through educational requirements…that often really don’t match the real world job requirements.

Often felons are filtered out:  And there continues to be a big divide when it comes to white workers vs. black workers…with black unemployment still high.

Entrepreneurship:  Finally…people are done working for others and want to become their own boss.   According to Bloomberg's reporting on business applications from the Census Bureau, there have been a record number of applicants in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the first nine months in previous years.

The US reached its highest number of unincorporated self-employed workers during the pandemic so far in July 2021 — also the highest number since the last big crisis to hit our country in 2008.

So, where have all the workers gone…?  Lots of possibilities.

IOB LOGO BWAbout Insight on Business the News Hour:

The award winning Insight on Business the News Hour with Michael Libbie is the only weekday business news podcast in the Midwest. The national, regional and some local business news along with long-form business interviews can be heard Monday - Friday. You can subscribe on PlayerFMPodbeaniTunesSpotifyStitcher or TuneIn Radio. And you can catch The Business News Hour Week in Review each Sunday Noon on News/Talk 1540 KXEL. The Business News Hour is a production of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications. You can follow us on Twitter @IoB_NewsHour.


Staying Vital in Small Town Iowa

It's a return visit from Lyle Muller of Iowa Watch - The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. Today we're talking about the Lyle Muller MPL 1118 incorporated and unincorporated communities in Iowa and the success/failure of business, population growth and quality of life. How some small communities are doing when it comes to all manner of business issues. We'll also talk about broadband and how some towns have been able to go it alone. It's a fascinating conversation that is not unique to Iowa.  Here is that article and here is our conversation. 

Thanks for listening! 

The award winning Insight on Business the News Hour with Michael Libbie is the only weekday business news podcast in the Midwest. The national, regional and some local business news along with long-form business interviews can be heard Monday - Friday. You can subscribe on PlayerFMPodbeaniTunesSpotifyStitcher or TuneIn Radio. And you can catch The Business News Hour Week in Review each Sunday Noon on News/Talk 1540 KXEL. The Business News Hour is a production of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications. You can follow us on Twitter @IoB_NewsHour.


Getting Stuff is Getting Harder

There are two signs Americans are seeing almost everywhere. The first are the "Help Wanted" Out of Order Sign signs or the "We're Hiring" flags posted in the hope that somebody...anybody will show up. The second most common sign is "Out of Order". Here it is on an ice machine at a very nice property at Lake Okoboji in Iowa. The staff told me it's been out of order for a couple of weeks. "We just can't get parts", she said before she took my ice bucket into the closed restaurant (COVID Hours) for a fill up.

Getting stuff is getting harder and it's no wonder. As I write this there are 125 cargo ships at anchor off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. Two weeks ago there were 75. Some have been there for weeks waiting to dock. But there are fewer dock workers, fewer trucks, fewer drivers.

The trucking industry says it is anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 truck drivers short. I spoke to one industry executive who told me they are no longer able to guarantee delivery on a specific date. His company recently had to settle with a customer who shipped a trade show booth by truck only to have it show up days late. 

Retail experts are saying that if you are planning on giving gifts this holiday season you might want to purchase them now because inventory is low and there isn't a light at the end of the supply chain tunnel. It's becoming more likely that what sits under the tree this year might be a picture of the gift...rather than the real thing.

All of this has a serious impact on price. If you remember your old Econ 101 class on supply and demand you get it. High demand and low supply means higher prices for consumers.

Maybe we're starting to get it. Retail sales numbers for August were up by .8%. Economists had predicted a drop of .7%. That is a major miss on the guess and should be a bright spot for the economy but what about the future?

I'm a journalist and a marketing/advertising professional. I don't have much of an answer other than to suggest that you shouldn't over promise, or perhaps even promise, delivery of your stuff by a date certain. Be honest with your customer. Let them know upfront that supplies are tight and that you'll do your best. 

Consumers have become conditioned to "one day shipping" so it's going to be tough for them to wait but, waiting is becoming the new reality.

One other point that makes a big difference is how you and your staff handle the supply chain crisis. The cheery woman at this property with the "Out of Order" sign told me there was another ice machine at the far side of the facility but then said, "Let me have your ice bucket, I'll fill it from our restaurant machine. It will only take me a minute."  Sure, I could have walked the hall but she made the effort, was honest and it was truly appreciated. And that little gesture boosted their brand and in the end that is what I'll remember.


The Business News Headlines 13 March 2020

Those of you who know us know that we've been the engine behind Insight on Business the News Hour for the past ten years. Born Business News Image out of a lack of anybody else doing it we created this platform to report on the major business news stories of the day and share it with thousands of people worldwide.

Today, we're trying something different and posting the newscast here as well as our Radio Blog. Just to see if you're interested.  Here is what you can expect today:

  • While the markets rebounded there is that "testing" thing;
  • Businesses are starting to trim staff;
  • Movie theaters are getting creative;
  • Bidet (What??) sales are shooting up;
  • Fiat Chrysler shutters a plant;
  • Small businesses are being impacted;
  • The Wall Street Report
  • Soccer and wages;
  • Plus we usually have Jeff Pitts from Cityview with "Stuff to DO". Today that changed.

Thanks for listening!


Some Hiring Help

Last week on The Business News Hour we had a story about jobs. The Labor Department says there are now 1.5 million more open jobs Hiring Use then there are unemployed people. To put that in context let's say there are 6 million unemployed people in the U.S. yet there are 7.5 million open jobs.

Our business is based in the Des Moines, Iowa Metro where the current unemployment rate is hovering around 2.3%. I am told, by the folks at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, there are 17,000 open jobs in the Metro. Again, just not enough people...

Everywhere you look you see "Help Wanted" signs. HyVee, a chain of over 237 grocery stores in the Midwest, went out and bought flags to plant in their parking lot to announce the obvious. Over the past two years I've watched as B'Bops, a locally owned hamburger chain, has changed their help wanted sign to promote higher wages. Two years ago the sign said $8.00 an hour. Today the sign reads $10 an hour.

Last month there was a high-powered forum where experts weighed in on the employment troubles and offered up some suggestions regarding not only recruitment but also retention.

One of the things that is missing from the discussion is something called "passive recruitment". That's where you use media to target not only your "help wanted" message but also, at the same time, polish your brand. You can use a host of mediums radio, podcasting sponsorships, podcasting, video and social media to do the same thing. 

What is cool about passive recruiting is that word spreads. You may not hit the person who is actively looking for a job but your message may be heard or seen by a family member who then says, "Hey, did you see/hear that Weasels is looking for workers. Sounds/Looks like a great place to work."

Here's a sample, click to listen.

Recruitment Audio June 2019

It's really that easy but, does it work?  I have a friend who works in this field and he has been successful for years. The key is to let people know how really great your business is and then pitch the idea of working there.

Building your brand while building your bench is simply a good stratigity.