Businesses that have been blaming the federal government’s extended unemployment payments for their not being able to hire workers are going to have to find another excuse, as Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho would no longer participate in the program.
We have a number of articles in the paper this week, by intrepid reporter Catie Clark, versatile freelancer Alx Stevens and the Idaho Capital Sun, on the reasons why it’s so hard for employers to hire people in Idaho these days. They range from the low unemployment rate, to demographics, to workers — especially women — having trouble finding affordable childcare or eldercare to people who’ve decided that they don’t want to work for minimum wage anymore and instead are taking higher-paying jobs such as the hundreds of $15-per-hour positions Amazon is offering.
After all, people are always telling workers, if you don’t want to earn minimum wage, go out and get a better job. Guess what: Workers are doing it. Who knew?
Some critics like to point out that there are more job openings than there are unemployed people, so why don’t these people get off their backsides and get to work? That may be true, but only to a point. It’s more than just a matter of raw numbers. Micron certainly has dozens of job openings, but how many of the unemployed people have the engineering degrees or other education those positions require?
Plus, after COVID, some people are rethinking their lives and deciding that maybe they don’t want to risk their health or their family working at McDonald’s or Walmart where some unvaccinated maskhole can breathe on them.
The agricultural industry has already learned that there are some jobs that Americans are unwilling or unable to do. Will the retail and restaurant industry be far behind?
All that said, life is starting to show signs of coming back to normal. The Boise Metro Chamber held its annual small business award ceremony, and actually had a hybrid event, with both in-person and streaming components. Editor Lauren Bonneau attended that and wrote about it.
Southwest Airlines is also adding flights and destinations, Catie tells us, meaning that there are now a total of 27 cities with nonstop flights from Boise.
Is this the end of the pandemic? Or is it the eye of the hurricane, as variants and vaccine hesitancy bring COVID back again?
— Sharon Fisher is interim managing editor of the Idaho Business Review.