Worker shortage in the U.S.

COVID-19 has created a conversation among the U.S. population over work culture. During the second quarter of 2020, COVID-19 led to an unemployment rate of 13% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, the Bureau says four million workers are quitting their jobs as of November 2021

Anthony Klotz, a psychologist and associate professor at Texas A&M, called this phenomenon “The Great Resignation.” Klotz predicted these resignations before they happened when interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek on May 10, 2021. During a discussion with Business Insider, Klotz said the increased quitting stems from multiple reasons, including a backup of resignations from the pandemic, workers looking for better pay and benefits such as healthcare. This includes U.S. society rethinking what it means to be a worker, as well as trying new careers. 

From organizational research, we know that when human beings come into contact with death and illness in their lives, it causes them to take a step back and ask existential questions. Like, what gives me purpose and happiness in life.”

— Anthony Klotz

“From organizational research, we know that when human beings come into contact with death and illness in their lives, it causes them to take a step back and ask existential questions,” Klotz said. “Like, what gives me purpose and happiness in life.”

Republicans believe the U.S. government should stop giving people unemployment and stimulus checks, along with getting rid of vaccine mandates and eliminating health insurance for people who are out of work. Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO, said during an earnings call that as stimulus checks went away, people came back to Walmart faster.

Target is implementing another idea to solve worker shortages — paying people more. In 2021 John Mulligan, Target’s COO, said Target has given employees more flexible schedules, increased benefits and raised their starting pay to $15 an hour, according to CNN. Along with training for new positions, Target said they have a lower turnover rate in 2021 for hourly workers than in 2019. Walmart has also raised their minimum wage to $12 an hour and has added 200,000 new jobs for the holiday season. 

With shortages across the country making national news, it can be missed how shortages affect people’s everyday life. In Kirkwood, some businesses have to operate everyday with understaffing issues. TKC and KHTV talked to Kirkwood businesses, along with KHS students about worker shortages.

“No one wants to apply [for jobs], no one really wants to work,” Stori Evola said, an employee at Kirkwood Farmers Market. “And even if we do get people, they work for a week and then they quit.”