More About the Labor Mismatch

I found this piece by Dominick Reuter at Business Insider interesting:

So Holz, a former food-service worker and charter-boat crewman, decided to run an experiment.

On September 1, he sent job applications to a pair of restaurants that had been particularly public about their staffing challenges.

Then, he widened the test and spent the remainder of the month applying to jobs — mostly at employers vocal about a lack of workers — and tracking his journey in a spreadsheet.

Two weeks and 28 applications later, he had just nine email responses, one follow-up phone call, and one interview with a construction company that advertised a full-time job focused on site cleanup paying $10 an hour.

But Holz said the construction company instead tried to offer Florida’s minimum wage of $8.65 to start, even though the wage was scheduled to increase to $10 an hour on September 30. He added that it wanted full-time availability, while scheduling only part time until Holz gained seniority.

Holz said he wasn’t applying for any roles he didn’t qualify for.

Some jobs “wanted a high-school diploma,” he said. “Some wanted retail experience,” he added. “Most of them either said ‘willing to train’ or ‘minimum experience,’ and none of them were over $12 an hour.”

Anecdotal but interesting. I wish Mr. Holz had provided more details about the applications he made. It’s possible he included some disqualifying item, whether accidentally or deliberately. For example, he might have included enough details that the total amount of time he reported having worked gave away that he was a 37 year old looking for an entry level job which might have raised some eyebrows.

But it does provide a little evidence for my speculation that a certain number of the jobs being advertised are fishing expeditions.

I’m not sure how one would go about quantifying that or testing it other than the method Mr. Holz used.

4 comments… add one
  • Drew Link

    I call bullshit. A simple walk through multiple retail establishments of all types, or discussion with builders and so on will tell you the labor shortage is real.

    We have businesses all around town that curtail hours, or you wait a long time, because they have nobody or few to staff. And the usual notion of just-pay-more must come from those who live in fantasy land. As I have pointed out numerous times the eventual cap on the ability to pass prices through often leads to lower demand. Small businesses don’t have a death wish that causes them to curtail hours. It doesn’t make sense to not curtail their hours.

    There have always been low pay, entry type jobs around. What is relatively new is that businesses are competing with government handouts. And that the government has allowed, encouraged actually, undercutting wages from immigration. And sending low value, labor intensive manufacturing, and eventually high value manufacturing to foreign lands due to environmental, lobbying or ideology driven reasons.

  • I suspect it is more complicated than that. Just as it is probably true that some people are holding back from taking a job to see if wages on offer rise it is also probably true that some businesses are holding firm on the wages they’re offering to see if people accept those wages. In some cases they have little choice.

    Take fast food, for example. IMO fast food franchises exist in a very narrow, fragile economic niche. Their margins are extremely tight and their ability to raise prices limited. If they must pay workers more than about $10/hour, they need to raise prices and if they raise prices they lose business. It doesn’t take much for it to make sense for people to buy heat ‘n eat from the market or even prepare their own food. There’s a similar situation in hospitality, generally, and those account for a lot of the entry level jobs.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Lot’s of fast food operatives, (Wendy’s) for example have still not opened inside seating because the drive thru model benefits their bottom line.
    And as I have been scanning the transport sector offerings the biggest negative is the very common, ” lots and lots of overtime”.
    The employer’s very need may be scaring away drivers.

  • TastyBits Link

    Apparently, those lazy layabouts saved their $300, and now they have extended their unemployment. (Somebody actually said that.)

    @Dave Schuler

    … a 37 year old looking for an entry level job …

    If the employer is so desperate, it would not matter.


    I call bullshit.

    You can perform you own experiment, and report the results to us. Even better, try duplicating Nickel And Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, Barbara Ehrenreich.

    For minimum wage jobs, you have no idea of what you are talking about. many of these are 20-30 hr jobs, but some are only 10-20 hr jobs. There are no benefits, and like the author noted, they expect you to be available at all times. You need to work at least 2 or 3 jobs to make the equivalent of a 40 hr job with no benefits.

    The hours are not fixed, and the schedules change every week. To get a steady 40 hr/wk, you need at least 3 or 4, realistically – again, no benefits. As you noted, many businesses have curtailed their hours, and that means it will take more jobs to get the hours needed.

    If you qualify for Medicaid, you are lucky, but trust me, Medicaid is not like your health insurance. Childcare is school, family, friends, neighbors, or alone. That list is in descending level of safety. While some mothers are monsters, the less blood relations are the more likely to harm somebody else’s child.

    With schools closed, curtailed hours, and COVID hysteria, the government dole may be the best option for those who qualify, but eventually, unemployment runs out. Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps) have requirements that must be met, and if on 12/31 you exceed the pay maximum by one penny, you are required to repay the entire year.

    As somebody on the government dole (VA & SSDI), it is not sunshine & lollipops. Since I was working, I have stuff, and if I fuckup, the government will take that stuff. For people with nothing, there is less risk, but still, it ain’t “the life of Riley.

    (It is confusing, but SSDI and SSI are not the same. SSDI is for people who have worked, and it is based upon how much you have paid into SS. SSI is for people who do not qualify for SSDI, and it is not much.)

    Yes, illegal immigration and regulations are a major factor for the unavailability of better jobs, but is that the worker’s fault? Yes, government programs to alleviate the problem make living on the dole possible, but is that the worker’s fault? Yes, there are lazy layabouts, but is that the worker’s fault?

    As to better jobs, I have no idea. The 3.2 million people who quit rather than take a vaccine do not qualify for any programs, and since they were working, they do not have the unemployment “nest egg” that the lazy layabouts have.

    Due to COVID hysteria, some people believe that this is worse than the Black Plague, and other people believe the vaccines are even worse. (Since commercials advertising medications are followed by commercials suing for the same medications, caution may be prudent.)

    Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and other tip based jobs are different. Depending upon the establishment, it is possible to make a decent living on less than 40 hrs, but again, there are no benefits. But, this was before the COVID hysteria shutdowns.

    The halcyon days of your youth are long gone. There are no “entry level jobs”. Low wages are for “dead end jobs”. Alger Hiss does not apply here. Teenagers working to pay for college are competing against people working to pay the bills.

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