Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Where Have All the Workers Gone?

By Mark Sadosky, VP Sales and Solutions at Brook Furniture Rental

Volumes of data on the U.S. economy are being reported on these days—and some of it is downright frightening. One day, we’re heading toward a recession; the next, we look to avert it.

For months now, unemployment has hovered at an historically low rate (3.6 percent as of June 2022), and “Now Hiring” notices have popped up left and right, in storefront windows and on online message boards alike.

This is all well and good for employees who want to quit (see: The Great Resignation) and find something better (see: The Great Upgrade). But it also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on businesses to compete for a labor pool that’s all but dried up. So what’s the deal? Where, oh where, have all the workers gone?

From Talent Pool to Talent Puddle

In 2021, labor market advisory Emsi published “The Demographic Drought,” detailing how the U.S. got into this labor shortage conundrum, and why it's not going to end any time soon. The diagnosis: Fundamental shifts in our labor pool will be felt for generations to come. Let’s look at some of the highlights of the report:

In February 2020, just before the pandemic’s arrival, 70 percent of businesses reported a talent shortage—a record number, and more than double the rate (32 percent) reported in 2015. Even before COVID, the people shortage was knocking on our door. The pandemic exacerbated it, and people aren’t flocking back to work.

Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid clip. More than 3 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 retired in 2020—a steep uptick from the annual average of 2 million retirees. And it’s a gap that won’t necessarily be filled, with a working-age population that continues to shrink. Since 1971, the U.S. fertility rate has been far below replacement levels, and in 2019, the national birth rate hit a 35-year low. There’s also the fact that labor force participation in the U.S. has fallen to record lows, with thousands of Americans voluntarily opting out of looking for work.

Companies are losing critical experience, leadership, and mentorship with the exodus of Boomers. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Such challenges are an opportunity to get creative. In baseball, they say it’s easier to hit a curveball when you know the pitcher is throwing you one. It’s time for us to hit it out of the park, with innovative solutions. Organizations need to invest in better training and stronger retention. They have to offer flexible working arrangements. And they must actively keep older workers employed. I believe we can rise to the occasion.

Getting Creative

If you’re striving to attract talent, you may need to widen your search beyond your business’s primary operating areas. To lure workers and demonstrate your commitment to them, consider offering relocation support and services. A huge concern for anyone deciding on a job-related relocation is knowing where they’ll live, and what that will look like. Will they be comfortable in a new home, in an unfamiliar city? Many will be uprooting their families—and they’ll want to know a company is serious about their future.

With Brook Furniture Rental, you can ensure a seamless transition for everyone involved. Furnished apartments—decked out with all the furniture, décor, and housewares a family might need—can provide relocating employees with peace of mind, and free them up from the stress and unpredictability of shipping their life from one place to another. Plus, Brook’s new-and-improved technology platform makes offering a relocation package easier than ever.

Our self-service capabilities allow you to fulfill an important need (furniture) in a way that’s both sustainable and budget-friendly, for you and your employees. Brook’s do-it-yourself, co-branded landing page gives your employees the freedom to furnish on their own terms, wherever and whenever they want. No involvement needed by your on-site teams. In return, we share some of the revenue with your company.

As budgets tighten, Brook is here to help you provide peace of mind to your employees, and reap financial returns in the process.

Contact Brook

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