by Elizabeth Troutman
Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed that the nation hit a record high for job openings in April of 2021, yet employers around America are not receiving enough job applications to fill their available positions.
Though the Bureau of Labor counted 9.3 million job openings in June, the unemployment rate remains at 5.8%, notwithstanding the millions of Americans not seeking employment.
Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency, suggested in a press release that stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and recent tax refunds are deterring job applications as those on the hunt for employment have the option to hold out for jobs which meet their demands and goals.
Arizona has had one of the quickest rates of unemployment claims recovery in the nation, potentially as a result of Gov. Doug Ducey’s May 13 announcement that, on July 10, the state would cease to provide unemployed residents with additional $300 weekly payments from the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Arizonans receiving unemployment benefits were making $54 more than full-time minimum wage workers. In an effort to get employees off the sidelines, Ducey established a $2,000 Back To Work bonus for eligible workers.
Despite Ducey’s attempts to incentivize Arizonans to return to the workforce, businesses are still struggling to fill job openings.
Daria Orozco, owner of an Express franchise in Phoenix, agreed with others in the Express system in saying that job seekers currently have the advantage when it comes to choosing jobs and positions based on their requested pay and schedule.
Orozco said that the demand for workers in the Phoenix Metro area has continued to exceed the supply throughout the economic recovery in 2021. She said the wages requested by workers are increasing and employees willing to accept less than $15/hour are scarce.
“Employers are competing for workers like never before,” Orozco said. “Workers are also quitting positions that are not desirable in their opinion because there are so many other opportunities available.”
Orozco said that Express saw an increase in job applications for a few weeks after the announcement of the Back to Work bonus, but the number of applicants has evened out and Express is currently collecting fewer applications than in 2020 or 2019.
“We’d typically receive 50 responses on average to job postings but now we only receive about 10. The workforce participation rate continues to be at a historical low and the number of working age workers in the population is also low,” Orozco said. “We just do not have enough people in the population wanting to work. Many experts agree that this challenge will continue for years.”
Orozco offered potential reasons for the post-pandemic exodus from the workforce, including individuals choosing to stay at home for child or eldercare, changing their career goals, or retiring early.
“Many potential workers have adjusted their spending to accommodate not working,” Orozco said.
Orozco said that people used their time during the shutdown for “re-evaluating their jobs and how it fits into their life” and “re-prioritizing and being more selective on the type of job they want and the company they work for.”
“Many have adjusted their lifestyles to live on less money or have chosen to go back to school, or stay home with children,” Orozco said. “Many also only want to work remotely.”
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Elizabeth Troutman contributes to The Center Square.