In Bloomington, Ill., machine shop Mechanical Devices can't find the workers it needs to handle a sharp jump in business. Job fairs run by airline Emirates attract fewer applicants in the U.S. than in other countries. Truck-stop operator Pilot Flying J says job postings don't elicit many more applicants than they did when the unemployment rate was below 5%.
With a 9.5% jobless rate and some 15 million Americans looking for work, many employers are inundated with applicants. But a surprising number say they are getting an underwhelming response, and many are having trouble filling open positions.
This will not be popular but it is true: I know of firefighters and people on unemployment who are working under the table and/or are still collecting unemployment benefits and being covered by state mandated health insurance from their previous employers. Two were just caught for cheating the state and working while still collecting unemployment benefits. They were found guilty and fined by the court.
Employers and economists point to several explanations. Extending jobless benefits to 99 weeks gives the unemployed less incentive to search out new work. Millions of homeowners are unable to move for a job because the real-estate collapse leaves them owing more on their homes than they are worth.
The job market itself also has changed. During the crisis, companies slashed millions of middle-skill, middle-wage jobs. That has created a glut of people who can't qualify for highly skilled jobs but have a hard time adjusting to low-pay, unskilled work like the food servers that Pilot Flying J seeks for its truck stops.
The difficulty finding workers limits the economy's ability to grow. It is particularly troubling at a time when 4.3% of the labor force has been out of work for more than six months—a level much higher than after any other recession since 1948.
I point to bad politics and bad policies of this and last administrations. I am looking to employ (fingers crossed) but the phone has not been ringing off the hook with interested crafts people looking for work.