As we clear through the COVID pandemic, we are left with the rippling effects it has made on the United States. Rising costs, lingering supply chain issues, and labor shortages are staring all of us – especially business owners – in the face. These impacts lead us to look at current employment trends and wonder, why is there a labor shortage? Let’s dive deeper.

Pre-COVID Problems

Although it may not have been as obvious, there were signs before COVID that indicated a tightening job market. COVID-19 simply accelerated the problems. Unfortunately, the older generation is outpacing the rest. Birth rates have not risen since the last economic downturn in 2008; therefore, fewer children are attending school, and this continues the decline of the cycle of workers.

With so many people leaving the workforce, this created an opportunity for those looking to improve their employment situation. The market became more favorable to these workers sticking around and caused many to find jobs that paid more. 

The Great Resignation 

In 2021 more than 47 million workers quit their jobs. ‘The Great Resignation’ is the term coined to describe this disruption to America’s labor force. However, some may argue that ‘The Great Reshuffle’ may be more appropriate. That is because many of these workers are getting new jobs elsewhere.

Additionally, economists projected 500,000 new jobs in September 2021, but just 194,000 were filled, proving to be a massive disappointment. And although things have changed a bit since 2021, despite job openings slowing down, there are still significantly more jobs available than people looking for work

The U.S. Chamber is working diligently to better understand the labor statistics and how things like participation, job openings, and quit rates all work together to bring our workforce where it is presently and beyond.

Learn More: Hospitality workers are quitting – what can you do?

Shortage of Workers

The labor shortage certainly has a reflection on the demographics of the workforce. While many may think that participation declines are solely due to a general decline in people’s interest to work, statistics now show that nearly every age category has risen in participation

Then why the labor shortage, you ask? On one end of the spectrum, Boomers are aging out of work and retiring. Because more individuals are born at the later end of the baby boomer generation, this should only intensify the decline in the workforce in the years to come. 

The employment decline is also particularly alarming for the younger workers on the other end of the spectrum. Some believe this is due to a reliance on government social programs. Another perspective is to view the differences between Millennials and Gen Z

While the age gap is a noticeable difference, what’s not so obvious is how each generation approaches job offers. In 2008, when Millennials were looking to take on their first jobs, it was a far more challenging time for those with no experience to get hired. Now, teenagers looking to acquire their first job are in a position of power to negotiate. The days of sifting through a plethora of job applications are gone, putting the employee in a better position. 

The Good News 

With the unemployment rate continuing to decline, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth is widespread – especially in the leisure and hospitality industries. Additionally, with the desire for employees to fill positions, there is no better time to get started in a new field. 

Maybe hospitality seems like an upbeat shift from what you’re used to. Perhaps you’d enjoy the perks of working in a hospitality setting. Regardless of your reason, you don’t have to take the first job that comes along. By working with a staffing agency, you open the door to plenty of opportunities. 


Find out what opportunities might be waiting for you. Find your next job with Elite Staffing.