Moving forward: examining labor shortage and unemployment issues

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Unemployment issues and a labor shortage are just two of several hurdles the economy is trying to bounce back from due to the pandemic. Many are concerned that pandemic unemployment incentives are fueling the labor shortage.

“What we’re seeing now is what economists call a ‘labor demand shock,'” said Christine Ngo, assistant economics professor, Bucknell University.

An economy trying to recover and a labor force that’s shifted out of necessity
have been the focal points of professor Christine Ngo’s research out of Bucknell.

While taking a look at issues with unemployment and labor over the last year,
she says there’s no quick fix.

“We’re talking about a policy solution that is within a couple months going into the end of 2021. It’s not going to happen right away.”

Many hurdles face a long-term solution like finding child care, personal and medical issues.
While the timeline has been extended to collect unemployment and pandemic assistance.
The bureau of labor and industry is catching up, updating systems to help millions.

“We had over 6 million unemployment and PUA claims filed in Pennsylvania, which is way more than the state has ever seen in a single year,” said Jennifer Berrier, acting secretary of Pennsylvania Labor & Industry.

It’s important to identify parts of the problem when it comes to unemployment and this labor shortage, but the real question is how do we move forward?

“I think that employers need to be creative with with how they recruit individuals,” said Berrier.
“There has to be a new social contract between the employer and the employee,” Ngo explained.

With research in hand, Ngo suggests that employers are going to need to invest in fully supporting the needs of their potential employees instead of ‘just paying them.’

“As long as the relationship between workers and employers continue to be a transactional relationship, this labor shortage is here to stay,” exclaimed Berrier.


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