Politics Magazine

Businesses Paying A Livable Wage Are Filling Their Jobs

Posted on the 12 June 2021 by Jobsanger
Businesses Paying A Livable Wage Are Filling Their Jobs
The media has been full of claims lately that businesses can't find enough workers to fill their available jobs. Republicans say this is because workers are lazy and would rather get unemployment benefits. That, of course, is ludicrous. Anyone who has ever filed for unemployment benefits know that is a lie. Those benefits are hard to get, don't last very long, and even with the enhanced pandemic payments don't amount to much money. I submit it is a rare person that would rather jump through hoops than work a decent job.

The real reason some businesses are having trouble finding workers is that they are not willing to pay their workers a livable wage.

The following is part of an op-ed by Paul Waldman in The Washington Post:

The Post interviewed a variety of business owners about a problem that conservatives have been particularly concerned about lately: businesses that couldn’t find workers to fill open positions. And what do you know, the market did what it’s supposed to and found the solution: higher wages.

It’s happening all over. And yes, it sometimes means consumers will pay a bit more. For instance, Chipotle — a company whose CEO got a raise to $38 million last year — recently increased wages to attract workers and then increased menu prices by 4 percent to pay for it. Which means one of its yule-log-sized burritos will go up from $8.15 to $8.48. I suspect its customers will be okay with that, but if they aren’t, they can eat somewhere else. That’s how the market works.

And that’s what businesses do every day: They make judgments about their expenses and their prices, managing trade-offs as they try to maximize profits. Should we buy these really attractive but pricier uniforms? Should we stay open an extra hour? How do we adjust if some of our supplies get more expensive?

Yet it was only when the price of labor threatened to go up for some businesses that Republicans declared it an emergency that demanded immediate government action. Their response was to move swiftly to cut off enhanced unemployment benefits, on the theory that the problem our economy faces is lazy workers who need to be motivated by a little deprivation and desperation to get back to manning the fryer.

Half the states — every one of which has a Republican governor — have moved to cut off those benefits, almost always citing job openings in low-wage industries that aren’t being filled.

But if we’re lucky, along with all the death and misery that has already come from this pandemic, we may gain some perspective as well.

We don’t seem to be talking about “essential workers” as much as we were a year ago, but it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re all dependent on the labor of other people — often very low-wage labor. Some of that labor is overseas (the factory worker who made the $10 T-shirt you ordered), and some is domestic (the delivery driver who rushed it to your door).

If there are sectors experiencing a temporary labor shortage, we ought to take the opportunity to ask what kind of labor is at issue and whether what’s needed is better positive incentives for workers. While every company and every industry has its own characteristics, what many are realizing is that they can pay a little more and still find ways to make healthy profits. And they get the added satisfaction that comes from knowing that they treat their employees like human beings worthy of reasonable compensation and fair treatment. . . .

The labor market is working just the way it should: Faced with the need to find new workers, employers are doing what they have to do, including increasing wages. It means that people doing some of the hardest work might actually expect to be paid a living wage for it. Which is something we ought to celebrate.

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