10 Million Jobs, 8.4 Million Unemployed

A series of mismatches mean would-be workers can't find employment despite an abundance of openings.

In “Why America has 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings,” WaPo economic reporters Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, and Andrew Van Dam point to several mismatches.

A mystery sits at the heart of the economic recovery: There are 10 million job openings, yet more than 8.4 million unemployed are still actively looking for work.

The job market looks, in some ways, like a boom-time situation. Business owners complain they can’t find enough workers, pay is rising rapidly, and customers are greeted with “please be patient, we’re short-staffed” signs at many stores and restaurants.

But the nation remains in the midst of a deadly pandemic with covid-19 hospitalizations back at their highest rates since January.The surge is weighing on the labor market again, with a mere 235,000 jobs added in August. There are still 5 million fewer jobs compared to before the pandemic, reflecting ongoing problems, including child care as some schools and day cares shut down again from outbreaks.


At heart, there is a massive reallocation underway in the economy that’s triggering a “Great Reassessment” of work in America from both the employer and employee perspectives. Workers are shifting where they want to work — and how. For some, this is a personal choice. The pandemic and all of the anxieties, lockdowns and time at home have changed people. Some want to work remotely forever. Others want to spend more time with family. And others want a more flexible or more meaningful career path. It’s the “you only live once” mentality on steroids. Meanwhile, companies are beefing up automation and redoing entire supply chains and office setups.

The reassessment is playing out in all facets of the labor market this year, as people make very different decisions about work than they did pre-pandemic. Resignations are the highest on record — up 13 percent over pre-pandemic levels. There are 4.9 million more people who aren’t working or looking for work than there were before the pandemic. There’s a surge in retirements with 3.6 million people retiring during the pandemic, or more than 2 million more than expected. And there’s been a boost in entrepreneurship that has caused the biggest jump in years in new business applications.

So, it makes sense that the pandemic has caused people to reassess their life. Some older folks who were working to sock away a few extra dollars for their retirement figured that it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Folks tired of working for others are starting their own businesses. But they shouldn’t be showing up in the unemployment numbers.

This is more helpful:

It doesn’t help that the abundance of job openings right now are not in the same occupations — or same locations — where people worked pre-pandemic.

There is a fundamental mismatch between what industries have the most job openings now and how many unemployed people used to work in that industry pre-pandemic. For example, there are 1.8 million job openings in professional and business services and fewer than 925,000 people whose most recent job was in that sector. Leisure and hospitality, as well as retail and wholesale trade, also have more openings than prior workers, and many workers who lost jobs in those industries have indicated they don’t want to return.

There’s a similar mismatch in education and health services, where there are 1.7 million job openings and only 1.1 million people whose last job was in that sector.

Here’s a handy dandy graphic:

So, again, this is only partly explanatory. If the jobs now on offer don’t match the skills of those seeking jobs, it’s obviously problematic. But construction appears to be the only sector with markedly more folks looking for jobs than available openings. Why aren’t people in those other sectors flocking back to work?

In recent months, heath care workers and educators have quit their jobs at the highest rate on record, stretching back to 2002, Labor Department data show.

“This is typically the time of year we recruit for the upcoming school year, but we literally can’t get enough candidates, and we’re seeing tenured people leave,” said Cindy Lehnhoff, a 36-year veteran of the child care industry who currently heads the National Child Care Association. “If you get one good candidate, there are 10 others contacting that same person. It’s a crisis. People can’t work without child care.”

Lehnhoff has been helping a child care center in northern Virginia recruit more staff. Their infant room remains closed, because they don’t have enough people, and one of their veteran workers was just poached by a nearby elementary school. As she spoke with The Washington Post, Lehnhoff pored over the Indeed.com job portal. It showed more than 2,000 job posts in the Fairfax County, Va., area for child care teaching assistants. Most paid $12 to $13 an hour, a bit less than many nearby fast food restaurants and retail stores.

So, this mismatch makes sense. Low-paying sectors are having trouble getting folks to take the increased risk of COVID exposure. That childcare pays less than food service, for example, is obviously a red flag. (We’re also having a heck of a time finding people to drive school buses.) But, again, this is just one sector among many unable to fill openings.

Nationwide, most industries have more job openings than people with prior experience in that sector, Labor Department data show. That’s a very different situation than after the Great Recession, when the number of unemployed far outstripped jobs available in every sector for years. To find enough workers, companies may need to train workers and entice people to switch careers, a process which generally takes longer, especially in fields that require special licenses.

While companies say they are struggling to find workers, many unemployed say they are having trouble getting hired, especially if they haven’t worked for a year.


Some Americans are being forced to shift careers whether they want to or not. The pandemic has lingered longer than anyone initially anticipated and the ranks of long-term unemployed have swelled. About 40 percent of the currently unemployed — 3.2 million — have been out of work for six months or longer.

Years of research, especially after the Great Recession, show these people have a much harder time getting back to work. Hiring managers are skeptical that their skills are still fresh, and these workers’ prior jobs and employers are often gone, forcing job seekers to rely on sending out resumes online without any personal connections.

This points to a systemic problem. As a general rule, I get why employers would prefer folks who have recent work experience and would be suspicious of those who have been out of work for an extended period. But, goodness, the pandemic has been in the news a lot. You’d think hirers would be aware of the uniqueness of the circumstances.

Additionally, there are regional mismatches at work.

But, as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell put it recently, it’s been a “vigorous but uneven recovery.” Job losses remain steepest for Black and Hispanic women, as well as Americans without college degrees.

The uneven recovery is evident in how different states are faring. In some areas of the country, the labor market is booming. All the slack has vanished in Idaho and Utah, where employment recovered months ago and the unemployment rates were nearing their all-time lows at 2.6 percent and 3 percent respectively. But other states are still reeling: Hawaii is still missing 12 percent of its jobs, New York is still missing 9 percent, and Nevada and Alaska are more than 7 percent behind, as tourism-dependent economies struggle amid fast-spreading covid-19 variants.

Similarly, urban downtowns inSan Francisco and Washington D.C. have struggled to rebound as more office workers remain at home. The shops and restaurants that supported these office workers aren’t coming back yet, especially as bellwether employers such as GoogleAmazonApple and Facebook push back openings to January. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post). Meanwhile, the most urgent need for workers is often in suburban areas, where housing costs have skyrocketed, making it difficult for low-wage workers to live there.

As the recovery proceeds, the holes in the labor force have shifted. Half of all jobs are still missing in high-contact industries such as buffets and movie theaters, but other industries that were hit harder in the early days of the crisis, such as RV dealers, carwashes, breweries and appliance stores, have staged a full comeback, buoyed by record consumer spending on goods.

Some lucky industries, such as delivery services, mortgage lenders, and breakfast-cereal manufacturers seemed to have sailed through the entire crisis without shedding jobs. They now have 10 or even 20 percent more employees than they did in February of 2020.

Of course, delivery service work is some of the lowest paying and least rewarding. And there may well be a breakfast cereal bubble; people are going to go back to work eventually.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    The pandemic is cause enough to have healthcare workers fleeing for the exits and some sectors of healthcare, e.g. long term care, workers are pretty low paid. Educators, given the mask wars, CRT wars and general background conflict that exists in education, why not pursue something else. Hospitality work has both adverse job conditions and low pay.

    Employers also share the blame, they refuse to train, resist raising wages, as you note, resist hiring the long term unemployed, and too often want someone who has experience in the exact job.

    Good for people who have sought training/retraining and aren’t just taking the first job that comes along.

  2. I do think a lot of people are reassessing their lives at the moment and that is part of this puzzle.

    Further, as noted in the OP, child care costs may make going back to some jobs not worth it, especially if both going back to work and to daycare means facing increased Covid risks.

    And it is also true that our culture makes job-switching difficult. It seems to be the case that an employer who might be willing to hire a young person with no experience is hesitant to hire a middle-aged person who is trying to switch careers. But I will allow that is an impression and not a scientifically derived opinion.

  3. Another question I have, and maybe the linked pieces can tell me: are the job openings and available labor in the same geographical locations?

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Waaah, why won’t people come and work in my bidness? All I ask is that they jump through hoops, prostrate themselves at my feet, let me grab their tits while I pick their pocket and then smile politely as I toss them on the trash heap at the first opportunity. No one wants to work!

    HR is typically in the business of exclusion not inclusion. They’re used to fending off job-seekers. Maybe stop excluding people for a positive marijuana test? Maybe stop inflating the job requirements with the famous 5 years experience needed in a two year-old software kind of thing? Maybe employers could cut the chickenshit? Back in my working days I can think of two times when I walked away simply as a result of pre-hire chickenshit. Here, sit and watch this video and memorize the details of the company founder’s life? Fuck off.

    The pandemic has flipped a switch for a lot of people who, having had the opportunity to step away, realize just how much they dread returning to work. Bosses are more often than not dicks and these crazy kids today don’t see why they should tolerate petty tyrants just so they can keep a shitty job. Maybe we could change the abusive culture of so many work places? In restaurant life it’s almost a given that ‘management’ are pricks who abuse, molest and rip-off employees.

    Then there’s the public. My daughter who works at a grocery store has had raises from 15 to 18.5 an hour in the last 18 months, but she’s so sick of asshole customers she’s insisting on doing night shift stocking rather than work a register. Cashiers, waiters, flight attendants, anyone who deals with the public has the added unpleasantness of dealing with maskholes and belligerent Trumpies on top of the fear of Covid and the usual unpleasantness.

    I know there are many factors, detailed in the OP. But I like to think a lot of it is abused employees waking up and finally pushing back.

  5. keef says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No. For example, look at the supposed mismatch in construction. In NC, SC, GA and FL there is a tremendous shortage of tradesmen. New construction is delayed; remodels are almost non-existent. The excess most assuredly is in states such as NY, CT, MI…

    A point made in comments is that employers are not willing to train. That is a wild overgeneralization, born of political bias. Many employers are taking any warm body and training. A better point would be that employees are unwilling to move. This is of course their right and their choice, but it should not be subsidized by the government (their neighbors, really) through unemployment benefits.

    In our own businesses, with operations in many areas of the country, we find some states – CA and MI come first to mind – where people have come to believe that if they go to work they will surely die of covid. (Or so they say.) This is self induced hysteria. Other operations, FL and TX come first to mind, the mismatch is skills related, not covid fear related. And we don’t have people dropping like flies.

    Mismatches in skills or geographic preferences have existed forever. (Go West young man.) It is only a recent phenomenon that we force people to subsidize their neighbor’s fears and personal priorities, creating frictions in the adjustment of the labor market.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    I also suspect that something has broken in the more, more, more economy. Tell me a consumer good that has people excited to spend money? I actually proposed this idea years ago at another blog, pointing out that status is no longer a matter of possessions. A big house is as likely to bring on scorn and ridicule as admiring oooohs and ahhhs. You don’t need a $80,000 car to be cool today, you need 80,000 followers.

    I think the yutes have basically accepted the fact that they will never be homeowners. I think they are prioritizing things other than consumption. They don’t want to be hungry, hungry hippos like the Boomers and the Gen Xers. They don’t see much of a need to work 50 hours to buy a $900 washing machine when what they really want is a $4.99 app. The incentive to earn cash to buy status is no longer as powerful as it was.

  7. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I worked in retail during the first six months of the pandemic. Having to answer questions about our altered policies resulted in immediately getting 10x more abuse than the same job pre-pandemic.

  8. Teve says:

    @Teve: in fact, get this, we learned ways to answer the same questions in ways that reduced the abuse:

    70-yro white guy: Why’re Y’all Wearing Masks?
    Employee: (shrugs) ah, you know, stupid company rules.
    70-yro white guy: it’s always something.

    70-yro white guy: Why’re Y’all Wearing Masks?
    Employee: because of the pandemic.
    70-yro white guy: There Ain’t No GOD DAMNED ‘Pandemic’ It’s That Bitch Nancy Pelosi and Fuckin “Doctor” So-Called Fauci And Can Kiss…(customer stays angry for the next 30 minutes)

    Just saying the word pandemic triggered them.

  9. de stijl says:

    I walked away from an extremely lucrative career 15 years ago when I was in my prime earning years. Too many projects with preposterous timelines and blatantly naive assumptions. Too much crunch over too many years. Too much grin and bear it. I did not need to abide bullshit any longer. I had “fuck you” money.

    I consult every now and again if I know the person asking and it is interesting project.

    I was humbly very good at my job and recruiters were courting me like crazy hard.

    I walked away. I had more money than I could spend on stuff I actually wanted to buy. For the rest of my life.

    It was easy for me because I have pretty simple tastes and do not want, and actively avoid the bother and expense of a big house or that type of bullshit nonsense. That never appealed to me at all. No wife. No kids.

    The fun part of my job – the stuff that I loved doing and discovering new fun stuff was disappearing off my schedule almost entirely and was replaced with meetings and bureaucracy bullshit. The Office Space’s famously accurate “planning to plan” whiteboard bullshit.

    One day it occurred to me “Why am I doing this?” I had no answer. It wasn’t fun. It was boring and kind of terrible and really unfulfilling. I had fuck you money.

    I quit.

  10. de stijl says:


    Know your audience.

    Don’t say “They make us wear them” because that will be a trigger too.

  11. Chip Daniels says:

    I keep coming back to the larger trend of automation causing a faster and more widespread obsolescence of skills and displacement of workers.

    As I put it, AI and machine learning will be to white collar professionals in the 21st century what electromotive power was to blue collar workers in the 20th. The Big Three white collar professions- Law, Medicine, Engineering- are at their heart, just amazingly conducive to algorithms.

    Its hard to imagine a skill that an 18 year old can learn today that will be relevant and useful in 30 years.

    As labor becomes increasingly fluid and fungible, the only constant which cannot be displaced is capital.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    I am sitting at MickeyD’s drinking 88¢ Senior coffee because the local Panera dining room is closed again due t0 lack of help. The dining room was open for some hours three days the past week.
    I have never worked at the local Panera so any observations I might make make are not based on first hand experience.
    This is a college town. Many of the jobs locally have always been filled by transient college students and others who came here to attend school and dropped out and like it here and stayed like me. (53 years). The employee turnover at restaurants and other retail outlets is always high. That said there are at least two college age employees (this does not mean that they are necessarily attending classes at this time) at the local Panera who I have seen working there for at least a year or more. I have become acquainted with some of the former and current help including management since I spend so much time at the place. There are several people that have worked at Panera and left that I have known who come back and visit their former coworkers and bosses and even fill in for a shift or two. When I see them we exchange pleasantries and they act like Panera is/was a good place to work. But then why would they tell me otherwise even if the place is a sweatshop. Management seems to be doing everything they can to recruit new help. One of the managers told me that they used to interview several people a day and now they don’t even get one a day. Recently one of the managers lamented that they can’t staff the place entirely with high school students because of scheduling conflicts. Apparently that’s where many of the employment applications come from.
    Side note. As I am sitting here I have seen the price of gas drop from $3.009/gal to $2.999/gal at the two gas stations nearby. I haven’t seen gas below $3/gal here in many months.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    It’s interesting that some of the sources are noting shortages of low wage workers. Hmm… I wonder why THAT would be the case? And in places where rent is high, too. Mysterious… I’m baffled.

  14. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Mister Bluster says:
    Sunday, 5 September 2021 at 11:39
    I am sitting at MickeyD’s drinking 88¢ Senior coffee because the local Panera dining room is closed again due t0 lack of help.

    Sitting at home right now because it’s 7:30 in the morning and I saw the same sign on Panera‘s door. I’ve called them four times and nobody’s even picked up the phone. Since I know for a fact they start people at $11/hr, I say Good.

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    I can’t find the article again, but I read a convince article that a big part of the problem is HR at a lot of companies has lost the ability to actually hire people.

    The HR people don’t know what the people of at the company actually do so they set ridiculous requirements for pre-screening (an example in the article was a company hiring nurses and because they were required to enter case information into a computer added a pre-screening requirement that they have work experiences as computer programmers) that make sure almost no one can actually qualify for an interview.

    Then if anyone manages to sneak through, they make them run through a bunch of bullshit “psychological tests” that are basically oujia boards, that eliminate another bunch of qualified candidates.

    Then they go through a ridiculously drawn out interview process (another example was a store putting people through five rounds of interviews for an entry-level stockroom person)

    All together, this makes it nearly impossible for a lot of companies to actually hire someone other than through a “somebody knows someone” hire that skips outside the entire normal hiring process and then wonder why they can’t find people.

  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Another pre-screening example was an electric company that was requiring hires for the people doing maintenance on transmission lines to have customer service experience.

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The funniest part is that this just makes people lie. If you are familiar with 3 of 4 software platforms they’re asking about, you’re going to lie and assume that knowledge of the 4th will come to you. I assume that most people look at job requirements as a baseline of something–lying about being good with Python is different than lying and saying you’ve worked in computer programming when you assume that all they mean is you can deal with the online portal the company spent x million on and which sucks.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:


    people have come to believe that if they go to work they will surely die of covid. (Or so they say.) This is self induced hysteria

    Oh? Is that what your old fart pals on the golf course are telling you? You go spend 8 hours a day being coughed on by maskholes and see how you feel about it. Jackass. If we had fewer smug, self-satisfied, clueless Trumpie fuckwits like you, the pandemic would be over by now.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    @Teve:..it’s 7:30 in the morning
    The time stamp on your post is Sunday, 5 September 2021 at 11:47 which I take to be Eastern Daylight Time. Are you in some sort of time warp?

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Shhh. @Teve is secretly the 14th Doctor.

  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    One of the suggestions in the comments was to start the cover letter with something along the lines of “I’m interested in applying for the attached position” and then include a copy of the entire job posting at the end of your cover letter, so the scanning software finds everything it’s looking for and you can’t be accused of lying about anything.

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    Just remembered that several years ago the local Panera made employees cover any tats they had on their arms by wearing long sleeved shirts.
    Arm ink is not covered at all.

  23. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: when i quit my recent job, i thought, just to pay bills while i find something better, I’ll apply at the local gym franchise I go to, it’s pretty chill. So I looked up the job on indeed.com which is a great service because you can just apply to jobs with your pre-formatted résumé which you set up one time in 30 minutes whenever ago.

    So I hit the one click application. Then it said it required a cover letter. OK I thought that’s weird this is a gym I’m sure they don’t pay a fortune, but I knocked out a little 2 paragraph cover letter and submitted it. OK, it said, you’re going to need to take a 30-minute third-party evaluation (what?), but first you need to finish your application at the corporate site, click here. When I click to the corporate site, it literally wanted me to re-enter, box by box, my entire résumé, experience, education, previous employment, references, literally like 300 more boxes of the same information they’d already get. For a $12 an hour job.

    I laughed and clicked the X and went back to drinking coffee and reading the New Yorker. I’m not gonna waste my time on incompetents like that.

  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Michael Reynolds:..14th Doctor.


  25. Teve says:

    Guys I’ve got a special screwdriver and I’m not afraid to use it. 😀

  26. Teve says:

    Apple voice rec is not having a good day.

  27. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    When I was obliged to hire I always picked smart and curious. You got bonus points if you were vaguely anti-authoritarian and a true individual, or as much as you can get away with within the context of an interview.

    You can always train up a smart and curious person. Multipurpose.

    Sometimes I had to fill a gap with specific requirements. We need a C++ programmer. That process was more difficult. I lacked the skills to easily make an informed choice.

    I never let HR do the screening or initial interview. Clueless morons.

    One day someone said to me “We really need to dialog on this.”

    I pointed out that “dialog” is not a verb, but I would be happy to pursue it at our mutual convenience. She was nonplussed but masked it. She was pissed.

    HR does indeed do greatly needed and essential work, but in my role they were actively bad and a hindrance at the hiring process.

  28. de stijl says:

    When I moved into contracting / consulting it was for a tiny shop. I knew the principle. I knew half of the crew. Easy decision.

    We hired really smart people who we knew would be likely a good fit because we had personally worked with them on complex projects previously.

    Much easier.

  29. Teve says:

    One day someone said to me “We really need to dialog on this.”

    I pointed out that “dialog” is not a verb, but I would be happy to pursue it at our mutual convenience. She was nonplussed but masked it. She was pissed.

    One day I was listening to Jack Dorsey give an interview and he responded to a question by saying “yes, there are multiple things that we are going to action on.” And it struck me as so weird that for a second I wondered if he had some sort of language-area ministroke or something. And then I heard somebody else say it and I realized, oh, no, they’re just doing that tech/business douche thing where you change the grammar of a word to sound like you’re one of the cool kids, like when business people say that they are going to do $9 million in ad spend instead of ad spending.

  30. de stijl says:


    Are you better than Peter Capaldi?

    (He’s my favorite Doctor.)

  31. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I wore long sleeves every day all day because I had a full sleeve on my left arm and quite a lot of ink on my right.

    The bottom of my left got revealed a bit if I pointed. No one said boo.

    Or never in a bad or condescending manner. Some asked to see and I obliged. One of my bosses even.

    And this was for a very straight-laced mortgage banking company. It was the equivalent of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but with tattoos.

  32. de stijl says:


    I can’t see a Panera and not think Pantera.

    And don’t even get me started on Au Bon Pain unless you want to hear many bad masochism jokes.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    The fun part of my job – the stuff that I loved doing and discovering new fun stuff was disappearing off my schedule almost entirely and was replaced with meetings and bureaucracy bullshit. The Office Space’s famously accurate “planning to plan” whiteboard bullshit.

    I’ve been seriously considering going to a coding academy, and then claiming to have made a mid career switch from animal husbandry or something to get back to the fun stuff. Just lie about having 20 years of experience.

    I figure animal husbandry might be one of those careers where you can avoid ever having to talk about it because of HR violations. “So there I was, collecting sheep semen, and I thought to myself, ‘Self, is this all there is to life?’ And that’s when I realized that the future isn’t all about jacking off sheep. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good work if you can get it, and for some people it’s a calling, but I felt like I was just going through the motions. Also, there was Jimmy, who liked it a bit too much, if you know what I mean, but I figure ‘no harm, no foul’ and the sheep didn’t seem to mind…”

    It’s possible I will need a better cover story.

  34. Stormy Dragon says:


    As a currently working software engineer, my biggest pain the last few years is being stuck under managers who don’t have any background in software development and who can’t seem to get it that you need to leave software developers alone for large blocks of time so they can actually do software development.

    The consensus among the manager class seems to be that if we simply hold the right combination meetings, the software will magically spring into existence on its own.

    It pays very well, so if your primary interest in the job is salary and benefits, I say go for it. But if you actually care about making software, you’re likely to be very unhappy.

  35. Mikey says:

    That childcare pays less than food service, for example, is obviously a red flag. (We’re also having a heck of a time finding people to drive school buses.)

    The bus driver shortage isn’t because of low pay. FCPS starts drivers at $20/hour plus bennies. It’s just that driving a school bus isn’t an easy job to get. FCPS will start 30 in a new driver training class and maybe 5-10 won’t wash out.

    But they are having problems keeping some senior drivers. Many just retired during the pandemic. Others found different jobs. A few decided the risk of COVID on top of snotty kids and bitchy parents was a bit too much and left.

  36. EddieInCA says:

    In my industry, it’s just a shortage of skill.

    Local 705 – Costumers – Out of available crew. They’re looking for costumers to join the union.
    Local 399 – Teamsters – Out of available drivers and crew. Looking for more Teamsters
    Local 600 – Camaera – Out of available Camera Techs. Looking for more Camera Techs to join the union.
    Local 800 – Set Designers – Out of all, literally ALL, Set Designers. Allowing people to join for first time in 2 years.

    And so on….

    Too much content being created. Not enough good crew to execute all the production planned.

  37. SC_Birdflyte says:

    In some ways, it’s an application of the old country saying, “Them as has, gits.” I have enough money to live a life of comfort forever, but through my professional networks, I still get employers who would like to talk to me. Not many people have that luxury.

  38. Jen says:


    A point made in comments is that employers are not willing to train. That is a wild overgeneralization, born of political bias. Many employers are taking any warm body and training.

    This is highly dependent upon the job. Willing to train at a quick serve restaurant? Yes. Willing to train a more skilled trade? Nope. They’ll want you to take a class, at very least, first. A handful of employers are starting to at least figure out they need to pay for the training, but for the most part the accusation that employers aren’t willing to train is pretty accurate.

    A better point would be that employees are unwilling to move. This is of course their right and their choice, but it should not be subsidized by the government (their neighbors, really) through unemployment benefits.

    It’s not just “unwilling” to move, it’s an INABILITY to do so. I’ve moved a LOT in my life and there’s more too it than throwing your stuff in the car (if you have one) and “going West, young man, go West.” Is there a spouse? If so, are there job opportunities for the spouse too? What about family support systems (we’ve seen how important those can be during the pandemic, as schools went online and daycares across the country closed, many of them permanently). Do people have the money to move? Can they sell their house? After being unemployed for a while, do they have the cash on hand for a security deposit and first and last months’ rent?

    I’m familiar with the type of commenter who likes to drop what they think are truth bombs in a discussion, but the arguments never really can withstand additional scrutiny.

  39. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I can say from experience that it has gotten harder and harder to find anyone who wants to deal with the BS of working in any public-facing helping profession, at every single level, in the formerly-great state of Texas over the past 18 months. Folks leave/retire/die, jobs get posted, job posting stay open, the remaining overworked folks get burned out/retire/die, more jobs get posted, rinse and repeat.

    Management seems clueless about the effect all of this is having on staff at every level (from entry level to degreed / credentialed professionals), give themselves outsized raises while claiming that the pandemic is causing austerity measures, and can’t see the giant morale void staring back at them.

    The 50% of the population that is anti-mask and anti-vaxx, think the pandemic is a hoax, claim to rugged individualists with an ‘I got mine, f-u’ attitude, deliberately choose not to understand just how much they rely on the community-mindedness of their neighbors willing to work in these helping professions to keep everything moving along. And we’re, frankly, just done dealing with their destructive BS.

    My dept lost 50% of its full timers over the past 18 months. We’ve filled one position. I asked 60 students this week to do me the courtesy of wearing a mask while in my classroom because my 80 year old mother is at a huge risk of developing a serious breakthrough Delta case if I bring it home to her.

    ONE student out of 60 masked up.


  40. Grommit Gunn says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Oh, wow. I guess that had been building up all week. Didn’t real mean for it to vent out like that.

  41. EddieInCA says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    Eventually, just based on old fashioned math probablity, a good percentage of your 59 students are going to get it and a few of them are going to die.

  42. Teve says:
  43. de stijl says:


    It’s nice to be courted.

    Some of my most fulfilling work was mentoring and recruitment.

    When I moved into consulting one of my tasks was to identify possible new hires.

    Two people I recruited still work there.

    H is brilliant. We instantly did not mesh at all. She is a bit prickly and does not suffer fools. She thought I was one – that I was going to be a drive-by nuisance maker.

    She had enough insight to mask that reaction but not enough to conceal it entirely. She was totally boot-strapped into her role. People laid hard problems on her doorstep and she figured a way to do that without any formal training.

    Then it was accepted knowledge that you can’t do a waterfall with SQL unless you create a series of temp tables.

    H did it on her own. It was clunky. It took forever. A lot of processing power. Inelegantly elegant. Brutal.

    I was so blown away. Wait! What? Wow!

    I monkeyed away that night recreating what she had done and it was stupidly gorgeous. Next day I got on the phone with their IT Database Manager to help this new core process get proper support. Got her a SPARCstation terminal and taught her how to create persistent and temp tables. Got her an DBMS buddy / mentor.

    This was during the beginning of the mid aughts mortgage refinance boom and every day a new directive would come down from on high saying we want to send refinance letters out to existing borrowers who are left handed, play golf and have a cat in these four states but exclude these random MSAs. Obviously not the exact directive but illustrative of the random shit that actually happened.

    She found a way.

    We are never ever going to be super awesome best friends but H was a killer hire. She quintupled her yearly income. I got bonus shares. Win – win.

    L is Dutch. I met him in Iceland. He is not particularly great at any technical skill, but is decent enough at a strangely large amount of them. Enough to understand implications and interactions. A polymath. He is also the most empathic and likeable person I ever met. Every one adores the man and he is low-key humble.

    Basically, I am a “give me the specs and let me figure it out” person.

    L is the guy to determine the specs just by helping people focus and establish realistic scope.

    We were strangers in a strange land and investigated Reykjavik together. Crammed Icelandic. Got drunk.

    He was already a consultant so his hire wasn’t a multiplier jump in income but was substantial. A decent bump up. I got more shares. Another win – win.

    Both are still active today. H has partner shares now and we still kind of annoy each other even though we never say it out loud.

    At least now it is via video conference.

  44. de stijl says:



    Doctor Who could use more improvised profanity. #TeamCapaldi

  45. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Oh, I know. But the bullshit seems to increase as you move up the ladder, and my gray hair makes people think I should be more senior than I am, and that they are doing me a favor by including me in the room and increasing my exposure.

    I keep telling them that if I wanted more exposure, I would expose myself.

    Anyway, this is for a mid career shift from staff software engineer to a junior engineer who randomly asks questions that are way too advanced. I have no other skills, so a real career shift is out of the question, but skipping the bullshit would be nice.

    Coding academy. Learn some JavaScript, css, and maybe Node.js, or React or something. And then no one will ask me how to knit together 12 services in disparate technologies to build a product that no one can define. Or whether the new guy is working out (he isn’t, he’s like a particularly dull intern with bad communication skills, but if my boss can’t figure that out, why should that be my job?). Or how I feel about the latest management change (where in my job description does it say I have to have feelings one way or the other?)

    And, maybe if I’m junior, when I ask the question of whether having 10 parallel calls to another service, whether our tp99 will be constrained to their tp90, the senior folks will stop and try to explain it to me in little words and realize that yes it does, and they need to fix the latency problems of that service. I am an optimist at heart.

    Recent conversation:

    Boss: there are a lot of open positions above you where you could have more influence over the company direction.

    Me: those positions are open because the people formerly in them quit out of frustration when they couldn’t change the company direction. Why would I want to do that?

  46. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @EddieInCA: They may well.

    After 18 months, I’ve hit the point where I no longer have empathy for grown ass adults getting themselves into avoidable situations. I’ve barely got enough left in my emotional reserves to continue to care for the people who matter to me in my personal life. And I’ve talked to multiple healthcare, education, and first response professionals in the same boat.

  47. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: https://youtu.be/fyrAPtWLwCs

    Not sure if he is my favorite Doctor, but that might just be because I am old enough that I don’t really have favorites. He’s excellent.

  48. EddieInCA says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    You’re where I am. I have no sympathy or empathy for those who refuse to mask or vax. None.

    I do not care if they die or not. But I do care if they clog up hospitals so other, vaccinated, people who have non-covid medical emergencies cannot get a hospital room or bed. That I do care about.

  49. de stijl says:


    One of my favorite movies is Local Hero from 1983.

    It features Capaldi’s first screen credit and is a fairly meaty role as Danny. A very nerdy young man.

    A weirdly, eerily effective Peter Riegert in the lead role. Who knew?

    By objective stands it is not a “great” film but I am very fond of it. It is meandering and discursive fish-out-of-water about an American company trying to buy out an entire Scottish village so they can build an oil refinery there.

    I highly recommend it. It is really charming and sweet and sneakily melancholic. Great music too.

  50. Jen says:

    @de stijl: I enjoyed “Local Hero,” but then again anything that is set in Scotland polls highly with me. 😀

  51. @Gustopher: I find it hard to rank them, so I do tiers. The top tier is 4, 11, and 12.

  52. Mikey says:

    Capaldi’s Doctor created one of the single most incredible episodes of television I’ve ever seen, and arguably the best of the series: “Heaven Sent.” He carries the whole episode essentially alone, with a brief flashback to his companion Clara and the appearance of a strange veiled creature being his only accompaniment.

    He eventually gets where he’s going, but he takes the long way around.

  53. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I kind of struggle to find a Doctor I don’t like.

    Other than 3. 3 just doesn’t do it for me at all. Lots of good stories, and nope, just don’t get into it.

    So if I have well defined tiers, I have roughly two — everyone other than 3, and 3.

    Beyond that they tend to drift up and down any type of ranking, mostly by virtue of who got a good story that I remember fondly.

    13 hasn’t gotten a good story yet, which is a shame, because she has moments, and I was looking forward to a modern version of 5’s crowded Tardis, but… her best episode, Demons of Punjab, comes a few episodes after Twice Upon A Time, and taken together you have every death in the universe being watched by a small crowd.

    Peter Capaldi, though, can usually find a nugget of goodness even in the worst episodes. That sounds like a good thing, but then you realize you are watching Kill The Moon. So, double-edged sword.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Can’t speak for your school district, but in mine another part of the problem is that most of the jobs are 4 hour days, split shift– 2 or so hours am and 2 more pm. Additionally, our district isn’t having problems with finding drivers, they’re having problems finding on call substitute drivers. If I were being cynical, I’d note that most of the 1.7 million jobs listed for education are for substitute teachers and adjunct faculty, but I’m trying to cut down.

  55. Pete S says:

    Even for older workers I think wages are a huge part of the issue. The business where I work was shut down for almost a year and a half during the pandemic although I was fortunate enough to be kept on working remotely for most of it. At one point while I was off I took a job at a grocery store to keep busy, I had worked my way through university at a grocery store so I figured it would be a good fit. The hourly rate now was exactly what it was when I left after graduation 30 years ago. As soon as I was confident that my real job was secure, we had an reopening date, I quit the grocery store. With all the rain earlier this year it would have cost me money to spend my free time working at the grocery store then paying someone to cut my lawn.

  56. wr says:

    @de stijl: “By objective stands it is not a “great” film but I am very fond of it”

    I can’t disagree strongly enough. I can’t think of a standard by which Local Hero is not a great film — unless you include CGI battles, in which it is pretty deficient.

    And to me, Peter Capaldi — who has been brilliant in so many things — will always be Danny Oldsen.

  57. Mikey says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Here the drivers have multiple runs morning and afternoon, and during the midday will also be shuttling students between schools for special programs and whatnot. Many will also drive students home from after-school activities three days a week. Drivers are usually guaranteed 35 hours a week, but many have no problems getting 38-40 hours a week.

    The on-call substitutes (“floaters”) have to be senior drivers who have learned a lot of different runs, so they are hard to fill.

    One school district near me has bumped their starting pay up to $22/hour and will pay a $3K bonus if a prospective driver shows up already possessing a CDL.

  58. grumpy realist says:

    @Pete S: Amazing the number of managers and CEOs who are perfectly willing to believe in demand vs. supply curves when it comes to raw materials but refuse to believe the same holds for employees and their salaries…

    You can’t find someone to fill a job? Raise the salary, you idiots.

  59. grumpy realist says:

    (The other idiocy I’ve seen companies do over and over and over is continually fail to understand that “a competitive salary” isn’t “competitive with what is also around here” but “competitive with salaries of other opportunities that skilled person might have.”)

    (In other words, if you want to dislodge me out of Chicago and move me all the way to Las Vegas, you’re going to have to offer me better than what I can get if I were to pick up another job here. Don’t try to offer me something paying $70k when the equivalent job here would be $180k.)

  60. Pete S says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I think they understand the idea of wages and salaries depending on their employees alternatives just fine. They would rather spend money lobbying the government to limit alternatives than actually pay employees more.

  61. Mu Yixiao says:

    First: Automated online hiring is one of the huge problems. When I moved back from China, I left a director-level position in a small international company–which was a division of a German company that was one of the leaders in that industry. With my experience and skills, I’d be a shoe-in, right?

    Nope. Out of over 200 resumes I sent out, I got past the automated resume service exactly 3 times. 1 phone interview, and two in-person. Never heard from from the first one after that, the 2nd hired from within, the third essentially said “We can’t afford you” (the offered salary was at the high end for the position in this regional market) and ghosted me.

    I have an “eclectic” background–but that’s one of the things that makes me more valuable (or it should). The position I have right now, I joke that I’m the “Admin-At-Large”. Put me into almost any department and I’ve got background and skills that let me do what’s needed. I’m not the best there is at any of it, but I can do it–and I can “translate” between departments.

    I was applying to start-ups (as well as established companies) because that’s the best fit for me. I could work across departments, help them understand each other, and jump in to lend a hand if need be. I couldn’t get past Indeed.com’s “Resume Keyword Scanner“–something they’re advertising to employers as a “really good thing”. It’s not “Does this person have the skills and experience we need?” It’s “Do they have the right words in their resume”. They’re literally hiring based on “ctl+f”.

    The other thing is: They take one look at someone like me and see that I’m not 30. Companies don’t want to hire “old” people. The list of reasons is long–they’ll never come out and say that, but it’s there.

    I ended up wrapping meat at the local grocery store for almost two years (with one 3-week break at a shit-hole of a company). I finally got hired by a great company–at an entry-level position. I currently support 10 different departments, and every VP there knows who I am and what I can do (and what I can’t do).

    And the only reason I got in is because my sister works there and recommended me. She started in the deli (after owning her own business), and 6 years moved up to Buyer I–dealing with all the global shortages BS that’s kicking our ass.

    TL;DR: Employers are shooting themselves in the foot by looking for the “perfectly-worded resume” rather than “the right person for the job”.

  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: One of the districts I sub in has one bus shuttling student that runs all day but all other busses are set routes. All other bus service here is special order–bands, athletic teams, field trips, etc. We have them (at least until Covid, we did) but there are no such trips on the basic calendar. Of course, your school district is probably much larger than the one high school (two in one town because back in the day, they didn’t want the poor kids corrupting the well off ones) districts I work in.

    Both of my districts are advertising for substitute drivers. Yes, I wonder how that works, too, but there it is. Training (in school bus operation I assume) is offered.

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Also, I don’t know what they were paying the driver but back in 1994 when I was a band director, the district (again, single high school) was billing my budget about $30/hour for activity bus service. With a total budget of $5000 (including my extra duty pay), I didn’t book many busses. Good thing too, late in the year, the district discovered a budget shortfall and recaptured most of my budget.

  64. Mikey says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Are the drivers where you are all employed by the school district, or are they contracted? Here they’re all district employees.

    Our district has ~170K students, so yeah, it’s pretty big.

    My wife tells me the school requesting transportation for sports teams, cheer, band, etc. pays time and mileage for the bus(es). Not sure how much, but it guarantees the driver a two hour minimum (four on weekends/non-school days).

  65. de stijl says:


    Local Hero is observant and reactive. Mac sees new odd (to him) behavior. He reacts. Locals observe and react to him. It’s all very low key. The stakes are relatively small.

    Mac gets on the phone to Burt Lancaster to relay it all. I had not expected a nuanced performance out of Riegert and he just blew my assumption away. I was very impressed.

    It’s the meandering thing I love about Gregory’s Girl, too.(another Bill Forsyth movie)