When a trendy restaurant in Manchester advertised a receptionist in July last year, it was shocking that it received 963 applications in a single day—instead of the expected 30 or so.
That was then. “It’s very, very different now,” said Carol Cairnes, head of personnel at restaurant owner D&D London. Its more than 40 restaurants received an average of one-tenth of the applicants in July last year, and it turns out that some positions are difficult to fill.
“Our chef ads usually attract about 50 job seekers; now, if we have five, we are lucky,” she said, adding that out of these five, only one or two are suitable.
Welcome to one of the stranger Covid developments: massive labor shortages in rich countries, even though millions of people are still unemployed.
When economists debate the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, and how long it will last, the rest of us can only marvel at the sudden changes in things.
An obvious sign of this shift is the various baits, bonuses and benefits, and just a few months ago, when workers faced the Covid job massacre, this seemed absurd.
The sunny state of Queensland, Australia has just launched the “Work in Paradise” campaign provide 1,500 Australian dollars (820 pounds) in cash plus travel subsidies to attract workers to the tourism industry hit by labor shortages.
In London, a restaurant near my office offers customers a £100 gift certificate, provided they can successfully recommend new employees. Another nearby restaurant offers employees up to £2,000 in bonuses, provided they can do the same.
It is even difficult for recruiters to hire recruiters. Neil Carberry, chief executive of the British Recruitment and Employment Federation, said the competition for top applicants is “very fierce now”. “I have never seen a market for experienced recruitment consultants like this,” he said last week.
Why is this happening now? One factor: The strong economic recovery in some places is pushing up the demand from companies that immediately reopened due to the lockdown. “Everyone is hiring at the same time,” said Tony Wilson, director of the research group at the UK Employment Research Institute. “This is very, very unusual.”
Will vacation plans and pandemic relief prompt workers to escape? Experts disagree, but it is clear that in industries such as hotels, people have left the industry to go to nursing homes, supermarkets and other places with shorter working hours and sometimes higher salaries.
Some countries have increased the pressure that could exacerbate shortages.
Since Brexit, a large number of EU truck drivers have been exodus, and many industries rely heavily on workers across the English Channel. Before the UK leaves the EU in 2020, 72% of D&D London Catering Group’s employees are from the EU, 6% are from other countries, and 22% are from the UK.
The labor shortage in Australia and New Zealand is blamed on strict border rules, where a group of dairy farmers Warning of the month The pressure of a shortage of workers is so painful that it may lead to “loss of human and animal lives.”
For small businesses, the struggle to find employees is particularly fierce.
“This is terrible,” said chef Nick Ward from Brighton, England. He is not alone. Soon after our conversation last week, he forwarded an emergency text message from a catering contact asking if Ward could come to work for him that day, but he could not.
You may feel great sympathy for people in Ward’s position, and it’s also nice to see people finally gain the upper hand. They work poorly sociable, unpredictable hours, and low salaries. As Tony Wilson of IES said, some industries have been enjoying a buyer’s market for most of the past 15 years. “The balance of power has changed,” he said. This may be temporary, but as long as it continues, employers have no choice but to make adjustments.