But the most important turning point was demographic.
The heart of the Baby Boom turned 65 last year. The heart of what was once called the “Baby Boom echo” is now in its 30s. Behind them are ever-smaller cohorts, a growing worker shortage that is turning labor relations on their head.
It’s just starting with the current return to work. Those offering cheap work complain they can’t get workers. Those offering well-paid work are finding many workers refuse to accept the expense of returning to offices. Older workers can retire. Younger ones can put out resumes.
This is a good thing.
It’s not being portrayed as such by the media. It’s being portrayed as workers being selfish, or greedy. Republicans, who pretend to represent workers but have always been an alliance of militarists, religious extremists, and economic oligarchs, were quick to pounce. They turned away extended unemployment benefits that had already been passed, claiming they were “too generous,” and kept putting out the “help wanted” sign at the old prices.
Any full time job that doesn’t feed a family is subsidized. Every worker making less than $15/hour is already seeking benefits from the government. Those benefits are paid for with taxes collected from higher-income workers and honest businesses. Where they’re not available, that’s why the crime rate is up. Yet this “tax cheat” argument isn’t made by worker advocates. Instead, it’s all about equity and fairness, terms that have sold on the left for generations but are irrelevant in a tech-based economy.
It’s the same with good jobs. Companies have said they will now “welcome back” people who have been working at home, effectively, for over a year. This despite the fact they’ve been operating just fine remotely.
Here’s what these workers have learned through the pandemic. An office job is a 12-hour day. There’s two hours traveling, an hour getting dressed, and the mandatory lunch hour. The same worker can be effective in 8 hours working from home. They can get up later, finish earlier, and they have time to get family chores done. Companies have also saved billions of dollars.
Yet so-called “experts” are still demanding workers pony up. They claim younger workers can’t get acclimated online. They claim female workers will be hurt if they’re not physically in front of the bosses all the time.
This is bullshit. This is a lie. Yes, there are costs to making online work a standard. Yes, there are times when you want to collect the team together. But you bear those costs, adjust how you operate, and you pocket the savings.
As I said at the start of this, today’s “labor shortage” is just the first step down a long road. As the 2020s go on labor shortages will grow more acute, workers will become more demanding, and costs for labor are going to go up. As I said before, this is a good thing.
People are infrastructure too, my friend, and in need of constant investment. People are what the economy is supposed to be all about. Put money into us and it will recirculate. Assets are worth nothing more than what a person is willing to pay for them. Put more money in people’s pockets and stock prices will rise, based on earnings and efficiency.