As health restrictions ease and stores, restaurants, and other services start to reopen, some employers complain they cannot entice workers back to their old jobs. Perhaps their employees changed careers or enrolled in higher education; others may be reluctant to come back while community spread of COVID-19 is still widespread.
It’s another headache for business owners trying to restart after the shutdowns. The President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business went so far as to declare that Canadian employers now face a “shortage of labour.”
Technically, he's correct. If I was an employer and I offered jobs that paid $10 per hour, then there would definitely be a shortage of labour.
The correct solution to this "shortage"? Increase the wage. The solution that the employers want? Import peasants who'll work for low wages and not complain. Of course, if you oppose this, then you're a HORRIBLE RACIST WHO SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY AND PERMANENTLY CANCELED.
In theory, if something is in short supply, its price should increase. But the laws of supply and demand are suspended whenever employers complain it’s too hard to fill job openings — and then inevitably demand that government do something about it.
Yup. It's a neat trick. Keep wages low ... get almost zero local workers ... cry, whine, gnash teeth ... get cheap foreign workers!
While low wages are a big part of the problem, meager and irregular hours make matters much worse.
Employers’ recruitment problems are partly due to stingy wages. But their failure to offer decent, reliable hours is actually the bigger issue. Most retail and hospitality workers are scheduled for inadequate and irregular hours. As a result, weekly incomes are very low: a median of just $450 a week in the hospitality sector. Who wants to return to work and risk infection, for a handful of hours’ work at minimum wage?
I know that at my local grocery store, the workers are scheduled in an utterly unstable manner. It's not unusual to have the following work week for an average employee:
MON: 11 AM - 6:30 PM
TUE: 6:45 AM - 3:30 PM
WED: 3:30 PM - 8:30 PM
FRI: 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM
SAT and SUN: OFF
Then, the next week brings a completely different schedule. And yeah, that's a minimum wage job. 25 hours a week, on average. Take home monthly pay? $1,300. What's really insidious is that a motivated employee can't really fit another regular, part-time job in the mix because the hours are unpredictable.