We’re being told that the problem is unemployment. That’s temporary. Much more dangerous is the coming problem of labor shortage, especially in high skill positions
This problem has been with technology for decades. Want to know why a skilled computer programmer makes six figures, or why a trained biochemist has no trouble getting a job? It’s the market.
But the pandemic has made some permanent changes. Millions of baby boomers have been locked down, many with jobs, some without. We’re nearly all in our 60s now, and it makes you think. Do we really want to expire at our desks? Or do we want to smell the flowers first? A lot of skilled workers are going to exit the work force in the next few years. We won’t be coming back.
Then, for our elders, there’s the long slide. As we age into our 70s, 80s and 90s, we need more services to get through the day. How much will they cost? Where will they come from? I think some boomers’ “million-dollar retirement” won’t be as plush as we think. Not that those having to wipe the shit off our asses will be happy about it.
Some of those people will be our kids. Much has been written about young people losing a year of school. But millions more millennials have lost the start their careers. This means they’re not ready to take the place of their boomer parents. The link between school and work has been fraying for decades. It’s now broken.
All this means more costs for American business. The best jobs require training beyond school. The people who would provide that training are going away. This is a gap that used to be filled by trained immigrants from China and India, who would take less and take on the burden of getting extra skills on their own. Guess who else is missing from the job market?
Businesses around the country are soon going to be crying for help, while millions of young people will complain they can’t get good jobs. It’s not a recipe for social peace. The generation gap may be coming back in a new form, a political struggle of class vs. class.