You are out at your favorite restaurant on a Saturday night….all seem to be busy with patrons coming and going. Your wait time to be seated is longer than usual, but everyone seems to be happy. You look at several empty seats and in bewilderment, ask the manager to be seated at an empty table. You are then informed that there are plenty of seats, just not enough staff to handle the crowd. Pre-Covid, there wasn’t an issue, and your wait time was shorter…what has happened?
On the Positive Note (Atlanta specific)
Atlanta is on fire…we have a National League Pennant (sorry LA) and are headed to the World Series. If you look at license plates, people from all corners of the country are flocking to Atlanta for jobs and the joy of being in the South where the weather is warm and technology jobs are flourishing. In the last 18 months, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have landed in Atlanta, offering a tremendous amount of high-paying jobs and consuming vast amounts of office space (the latter confirmed Atlanta as their second headquarters). Sexy high rise apartment buildings are full everywhere, and thanks to State Tax incentives, movies are being filmed here all the time with celebrities abundant (saw Pierce Brosnan – James Bond out last week!!). Demand for services and goods are high, but there are few service employees to help our new visitors spend their money.
Baby Boomers – the largest worker force in the history of mankind felt the COVID shock and has headed out to pasture. Pure demographics forecasted this event, but some were optimistic that this powerhouse workforce would work until later years in life…at least for healthcare benefits! Maybe they will return, as they will likely live longer than their pensions and there will be a reckoning.
Working Moms – if you aren’t comfortable with your unvaccinated kid going back to school, you are going to stay home and take care of what’s most important, whether you can afford to or not. When vaccines are rolled out to young children, we will see moms coming back to work.
Unemployment Benefits and Eviction Moratoriums – if you get paid $600 a week in unemployment benefits, and you honestly believe an eviction moratorium is simply a fancy form of rent forgiveness saving you about $1,200/month, then your total monthly benefit is almost $3,600 by virtue of being unemployed and uninformed. No wonder fewer people are motivated to return to work and for many, they are getting paid more to NOT work. Caveat – there are many who are in serious need of these funds and live hand to mouth. We have seen the opposite side of this with full abuse of what the system was meant to do.
Strategic Holdouts – I read an article about an hourly wage worker who was earning $12/hour and decided not to return to work. His desperate employer increased his wage offer to $15/hour (probably long overdue). This was a 25% increase in what he was used to making and word gets around on the street…hold out a little longer, and they will pay you more.
Return to Normal?
When the money dries up from the federal government and evictions come to pass in the court systems, we will see people returning to work. It has just started, but it will take time for reality to set in for many.
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