LABOR With Claims of Mass Workers Shortages and Layoffs in the US, We Must Read Between the Lines

PORTSIDE) Daniel Kostzer  EQUAL TIMES, February 2, 2023

The popular narrative about worker shortages and layoffs is aimed at building a cultural consensus against workers and the labour movement, and is based on biased, partial, and contradictory definitions.

In the midst of the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, in trying to justify the acceleration in global inflation – even before the war in Ukraine – the mainstream media was flooded with news about the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, blaming an apparent shortage of workers for widespread bottlenecks in the production of goods.

Today, the same media is talking about large-scale redundancies and layoffs by corporations. The explanations offered for this apparent trend could lead one to draw conclusions that barely scratch the surface in terms of understanding the true root causes of these issues. This impacts not just the general public but also, most worryingly, policymakers who could be led to implement poorly designed policies that produce negative effects on people, their livelihoods and the wider economy.

Take two examples: in the first, on 14 December 2022, following a board meeting at the US Federal Reserve, its chair, Jerome Powell, said: “It feels like we have a structural labour shortage out there where there are four million fewer people, a little more than four million, who were in the workforce available to work than there’s demand for workforce.” This statement fails to consider that the federal minimum wage in the US, adjusted in real terms for inflation, is the lowest in 66 years.

Source: Portside