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Workers Wary Of Jobs Market

May 8, 2021

On Friday the factual news about the latest jobs report was released. Employers in the nation added only 266,000 jobs in April. That ran far south of the million jobs that had been predicted, while the unemployment rate edged up, to 6.1 percent.

Those are the facts in a nutshell. Then came the spin-troopers from the Republican Party who claimed that the ‘cushy’ unemployment relief aid supplied in congressional bills was preventing workers from taking the job openings in restaurants, stores, and local industry.

While the past year has been most daunting for everyone in the nation, and we all want to see vaccinated people helping spur an economic boom, there are a lot of unknowns that continue to press upon the workers. So it was rather unsettling to have some partisans in the nation lambast those workers who have not yet re-entered the job market.

From the smattering of people I talk with on Facebook, it strikes me that some smaller business places are just not sure what is next concerning the virus. While everyone wants to be positive the lack of herd immunity, along with the growing evidence of large segments of the population unwilling to get the vaccine(s), means they are rightfully cautious about fully opening.

Workers meanwhile offer their own versions of why they are treading slower when it comes to taking back their old job or striving to find a new one. There is still a concern about the variants and the spread of what medical professionals call more easily transmissible strains of COVID. It needs to be noted that in the past month this nation did experience an increase in cases of the virus. And it needs to be noted, too, that there is still no conclusive evidence a vaccinated person cannot carry and transmit the virus. All those aspects rightfully do spark concerns among the ones who listen and care about the disease. They can not be faulted for having concerns about their health and those in their household!

There is a reluctance for some to jump into work settings due to not knowing who has been vaccinated. Working at a restaurant in Alabama or a hair salon in Florida may not be the best choice right now. Add in the need for childcare costs when finances have been cut over the past year and it is not hard to better understand why some workers have genuine wariness and concerns about the near future.

One of my social media friends in Britain offered a reason many weeks ago as to why she has not re-entered the job market. After having a bout of the virus in summer 2020 she remains constantly tired and her memory and thinking processes are “foggy”. It is not due to her lack of will or interest in her past employment that keeps her home, but rather the long-term consequences of the disease.

While some of the people James and I interact with lost jobs, and certainly savings over the past year, I am not aware of anyone who moved ‘back home’ due to trouble with rent payments. But the data does show that many folks around the nation did do that very thing and it certainly will impact job growth. Are we to assume that those people have enough cash on hand to restart a job in the location they left during the height of the pandemic?

There is also the long arc of change regarding work that is playing out in the nation. During the pandemic the topic of better wages, a $15.00 minimum wage, has been much talked about, and certainly since President Biden took office. Real wages in this country have been flat for far too long, and when one adds in the higher cost for childcare and placing elderly parents into facilities it all underscores another reason workers are not clear how to proceed at his time.

While I personally feel very confident about the future with the vaccines, and the economy over the long term, I am aware that many of my fellow citizens are truly concerned about the lay of the land moving forward. I accept their reasons as to why they feel as they do. The role of government is to meet them where they are and work to lift them up to the next level.

Not harshly judge them for being shiftless.

And so it goes.

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