A shortage of skilled workers is not going away anytime soon, and it’s a problem that needs addressing in the United States, especially in manufacturing, according to an economic forecast from the National Association of Manufacturers.
But the NAM predicts that we could face an even bigger challenge in the coming years: the rising cost of living, and the fact that many Americans are relying on temporary jobs to supplement their incomes.
A shortage, NAM economist Daniel Schatz told HuffPost, is a problem for everyone, not just for workers who can find the time and the resources to fill those positions.
“The idea that we have an entire economy that is being starved of good workers is a very serious problem, and we need to be aware of it,” he said.
In the past, it’s been argued that the rise in cost of food and other commodities has been offset by workers in many industries who have been pushed to the sidelines.
But as more people face an increased cost of housing and transportation and are faced with increasing student loan debt, many Americans aren’t feeling the pinch as much.
For those workers who do find time and time again to fill their jobs, NAMS believes the economy is already suffering from a shortage.
But even as the shortage persists, there are other ways to boost the economy without the kind of massive disruptions that we’re seeing today.
A growing number of Americans are putting down roots for the first time, taking up jobs that were previously outsourced to countries like China and India.
The growth in the number of American families headed by a single parent has outpaced the growth in overall employment, and so, too, is the increase in people who are working in a variety of fields and professions, including those in manufacturing.
The number of people in a family who are on food stamps is expected to rise this year, and this is the largest single category of income for those families.
A major factor contributing to this growth, NAMA argues, is that “there is more opportunity for people to build and build up their savings and investment, and they also have more time to do so.”
And with those savings and investments building up, Namers worries that we will continue to see a growing number, albeit at slower rates, of people who cannot get a job because of a shortage, as we saw in 2016.
In addition, Namer believes that we are currently in the midst of a “long-term decline in economic mobility.”
The U.S. has been on a long-term economic decline, and that trend is set to continue, Naming what can be done to reverse it, Schatz said.
A number of things can be addressed to help people find and retain good jobs, he said, including increasing access to education, providing financial assistance for families, and ensuring that workers are paid on time.
And that’s a big deal.
“We need to make sure that we create a better environment for good workers to find jobs, and then we need a more stable economic environment that provides for people who have earned the right to earn a living wage,” Schatz added.