Why Is There a Staffing Shortage?


Why is there a staffing shortage? Just a few months ago it seemed like no one could get a job. With businesses shutting down left and right and layoffs abounding due to the pandemic, it felt like those high unemployment levels would last forever, but just as it started it has come to an end. Now businesses are struggling to find employees to fill necessary positions. There seems to be a worker shortage.

So, why is this happening? Is it just a natural consequence of the lifting of pandemic restrictions or is there more to it? In this article, you will learn the answer to the question, “Why is there a staffing shortage?” and how you can leverage this worker shortage to your advantage during your job search.


Why Is There a Labor Shortage?

Why is there a staffing shortage? The pandemic is the main answer. Markets are stabilizing and production levels are reaching pre-pandemic levels, but the employees who maintained these levels were laid off during pandemic lows. Now there is a worker shortage and employers are scrambling to find skilled workers to fill these positions. Without the necessary workforce, production will continue to struggle to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This staff shortage is not only a problem in the United States. Australia, Singapore, Europe, and more are also feeling the effects of the worker shortage. 


Worker Shortage 

So why is there a labor shortage? What has the pandemic done to keep qualified employees away from businesses?  


Mental Health Issues

The pandemic hit workers hard both physically and mentally. Mental health was at an all-time low during the pandemic. Mental health issues keep workers out of work and keep those who continue to work from doing the best they can. About 67% of Millennials who left their job in 2021 cited mental health as the main driver. 81% of Gen Z cited the same reason. If this trend in negative mental health effects is not addressed, the worker shortage crisis will continue to increase.


Immigration Issues

The pandemic caused countries to tighten their immigration requirements and many even closed their borders. Before the pandemic, the United States workforce was comprised of 17.4% immigrants. This is a significant portion of the workforce. Without immigration, the United States loses an important piece of its workforce. Closed borders are one of the reasons there is a staffing shortage. 


Worker Expectations

The pandemic forced people to stay home. Many workers found that they loved the ability to work from home and the flexibility it provided. Businesses that refuse to offer work-from-home options or deny a work-life balance struggle to find people to work for them. If a business is not willing to work with employee expectations, they are going to lose exceptional talent to employers who are willing to meet those expectations. 


Non-Pandemic Reasons for the Staffing Shortage

While the pandemic was a main driver for the worker shortage, some employment trends have been developing long before the pandemic drove workers away. 


Low Wages

Before the pandemic, the cost of living was increasing while wages remained stagnant. Salary is one of the biggest drivers for workers to make a career change. If an employer can not pay candidates what they deserve, there is another employer that can.

Everyone wants to find the best opportunity. They want to work somewhere with high wages, good benefits, and a place that makes them happy. When the working environment was oversaturated with qualified employees, workers needed to settle for what they could get. With the staffing shortage, employees have more power to leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Lower wages are one answer to the question, “Why is there a staffing shortage?”


High Cost of Education

Some businesses need employees with a college education. In fact, 75% of new jobs require a degree while only 40% of workers actually have one. This is a mismatch. There are simply not enough workers with a degree to fill the jobs with this requirement.

The cost of education is prohibitive. Many people want an education, but they do not have the funds to afford it. Many people go into crippling debt to get a job that just pays enough to be considered middle-class. Those who do not have a degree have trouble finding any job at all. It is even worse for people of color. Businesses are shutting out a large part of the population from jobs that require skills that could be earned elsewhere, contributing to the staffing shortage.  


Aging Population

Workers are retiring at record numbers. There are not enough young workers to fill these positions. The workforce is shrinking and businesses are not properly equipped to deal with a smaller workforce.


Staff Shortage

Now that you know the answer to the question, “Why is there a staffing shortage?” you are probably wondering how that will affect you as a job seeker. You can leverage the staff shortage to your advantage. 

Make sure you brush up on your skills. Update your resume and evaluate your career goals. The more enticing you are as a candidate, the more power you have during your job search. Employers need qualified candidates now more than ever. If you are qualified, the employers will need you more than you need them. If you can not negotiate the salary or benefits that you want in reason, there will likely be another business willing to work with you. 


Finding a Job

Now that you know the answer to the question, “Why is there a staffing shortage?” you know that this is a prime opportunity to find a job. If you need help finding an employer that aligns with your interests, skills, and ambitions, consider contacting Brightwing Talent Experts. Our recruiters can help you find the right fit and help you leverage the worker shortage to your advantage. 

These kinds of market conditions change rapidly. While there is a worker shortage today, there is no telling when it will end. Take advantage of the staffing shortage now to find the job that is right for you.

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