July 14, 2022 4:00 pm
People flock to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, like every summer. The relaxation of pandemic regulations pushes tourists to feel much more comfortable interacting with others in crowded places. But some surprises await those who venture there. The labor shortage in the United States means that the country has a few million more jobs than workers willing to do them.
At Disneyland this has meant the closure of attractions and limited availability of restaurants, simply because there are not enough people to work there. According to Disneyland, the worst shortcomings are felt in live entertainment and hospitality, sectors that have been left dry-mouthed by the post-pandemic hiring market.
It’s not just a Disneyland problem. Throughout the United States, citizens are witnessing a phenomenon never experienced before. Fast-food restaurants are closing down the aisles drive-through because there are no more people to work on it. In major supermarket chains, such as Walmart and Target, checkout counters have been reduced to one or two, while hundreds of customers wait in line for their turn. And the problem is even more serious for small business owners, some of whom have closed their businesses completely because they have failed to keep staff.
Occupation of shortness of breath
The US Chamber of Commerce, described as “the largest business organization in the world,” said that “during the reshaping following the pandemic, jobs that require in-person presence and traditionally have lower wages, have had more difficulty in retaining workers. The leisure, hospitality and retail sectors, for example, have experienced the highest dropout rates since November 2020, consistently above 4.5 percent ”.
Things aren’t much better in the UK. In recent weeks, disturbing photos of Heathrow filled with huge piles of abandoned luggage have been circulating on the internet. Some of the passengers who had to pass through the airport reported that they were unable to retrieve their luggage for five or six days. But we are talking, in reality, of the lucky ones who have at least managed to take their flight. At Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, people have to queue for more than three hours before their flight to get through security. There are simply not enough security guards to move the lines forward at a reasonable pace.
As a labor exporting country, Pakistan should take advantage of the shortage of workers abroad
There is no single reason or solution for this crisis. Both the United States and the United Kingdom have low population growth rates. If you add to this the reshuffling caused by covid-19 and the so-called phenomenon of the great resignations (which has seen millions of Americans give up their jobs in the company), we obtain the disaster that is the current job market.
It is also true that the jobs people are leaving are the ones that don’t have a good long-term prognosis. The hotel industry experienced huge cuts during and after Covid-19, as business travel, their main revenue engine, lagged behind prepandemic volumes. When it comes to checkout work and shelf replenishment, everyone in the retail industry knows that these jobs will soon be replaced by robots and other forms of automation.
Opening the doors to immigration
But even excluding these jobs, millions of uncovered jobs would still remain. Rice University’s Baker Institute has released a report arguing that foreign-born workers must be part of the solution. The report points out that although only 1.8 percent of immigrants in the United States work in agriculture, fisheries or forestry, they represent more than 35.3 percent of all workers in these sectors. Similarly, high percentages of immigrants are found among construction, hospitality, cleaning and building maintenance workers.
The Baker Institute report sees no way out of this puzzle other than the creation by the United States of work-based immigration programs that allow foreign-born labor to fill gaps in the U.S. economy. “The government is also expected to expand some of the current temporary visa programs and plan new programs for additional temporary workers,” the report read.
While the report focuses primarily on low-skilled workers, companies also struggle with trying to hire highly skilled workers. Tech companies claim they are desperate for cybersecurity workers; According to Cybersecurity Ventures, over seven hundred thousand cybersecurity jobs are available but not covered in the United States.
The current xenophobic sentiment in the United States and the generally inefficient US immigration system mean that all jobs that can be automated or turned into remote work will follow this path. If the jobs requiring physical labor are filled by immigrant workers from Mexico and the southern border, most of the others will be automated and relocated overseas. Automation could mean that occupations such as managing a supermarket checkout – which traditionally requires the physical presence of a worker – can now be carried out by someone living in another country thousands of miles away.
According to a report that aired recently as part of the US news broadcast 60 MinutesBefore the pandemic, one in 67 US jobs were remotely operated and could be done from anywhere in the world. In the post-pandemic United States, it seems that one in seven jobs is done remotely. Currently most of these job positions are occupied by US workers, as most of them love the flexibility of remote employment. However, remote work could turn out to be the job opportunity of the century for skilled workers from other parts of the world as well.
US lawmakers are likely to pass laws preventing the “export” of remote jobs, but these do not currently exist. Highly skilled workers in Pakistan should improve their LinkedIn resume and get busy applying for jobs that were previously barred from visa issues. While there are fewer workers in the United States than in the past, there are millions willing and willing to work from Pakistan.
(Translation by Federico Ferrone)