When the COVID-19 pandemic began, millions of workers were put out of a job. Unemployment spiked. Employees started working from home.
Now, nearly two years later, the labor market continues to see widespread changes. It isn't a shortage of jobs available, but of workers to fill those jobs.
There are some 10 million job openings in the United States, according to the most recent U.S. Labor Department's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Meanwhile, the quit rate is the highest in decades, leading to a popular term for current conditions in the labor market: The Great Resignation.
Locally, it's easy to see the impacts on everyday people. Drive around town, and you're likely to see a "We're Hiring" sign on seemingly every corner. There are supply chain issues. There are bosses desperately trying to recruit new workers. Our local sheriff's office even put an ad in Times Square to attract new deputies.
In one way or another, the labor shortage affects every industry. In this section, we at the Inlander zoomed in on four industries in particular: local agriculture, health care, law enforcement and trucking.
What we found is that the reasons for the worker shortages can vary widely, yet they're also interconnected. Many of these issues existed years ago, yet were made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. And experts in these industries are struggling to come up with solutions.