Is America running out of workers?
If you want one number that encapsulates the enormity of the economic turnaround under Donald Trump it is this: Today in America so far this year there have been between 7.1 million and 7.6 million unfilled jobs. This number is larger than the entire population of the state of Indiana. That is how powerful and relentless the hiring spree has been under Trump policies.
Today, there are just over 6 million Americans who are “unemployed.” This means that even if every person in America looking for a job took a job (and had the skills to fill them), we would still have more than 1 million jobs that would not be filled. That’s the University of Michigan football stadium filled 10 times. That’s a lot of jobs.
Add to that the latest Labor Department numbers that the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits and it adds up to a glorious and irrefutable reality.
This is the best labor market for workers in 50 years.
This tight labor market is exactly what those of us on the Trump team hoped for when we designed the tax reform bill, the deregulation policies and other policy changes designed to allow American businesses to grow and prosper. The competition for workers explains why average wages in America have risen by 3.2 percent over the last year in an environment of little or no inflation. Add to that the average tax reduction of between $1,500 and $2,000 for the typical middle class family and it is no wonder that 71 percent of workers feel good about the economic direction of the nation, as a recent CNN poll found. Before the election of 2016 only about half that number of Americans rated the economy as good or great.
For the first time in a long time, Americans’ real take home pay is expanding. It feels good. People are spending because they have more money in their wallets and they are confident in their financial future. What a change from the malaise of the last decade, when almost every poll showed that jobs and the economy were the biggest worry of Americans.
The tight labor market and boost in wages are inextricably linked. Target just announced a new “minimum wage” of $13 an hour. That wage is headed to $15 an hour in 18 months. Is this because of a government minimum wage law? No. The company said it had to pay more to recrult and retain the best workers. There is nothing more empowering for middle class workers than having employers compete for their services.
Target isn’t the only company handing out big raises in the Trump era. Walmart is up to $11 an hour, and Amazon just recently went to $15 an hour for starting workers. Don’t forget to add to bonuses of up to $2,000, and paid vacations and other enticements.
Even as businesses are investing more in capital equipment — like machinery, computers, robotics, trucks and forklifts — they are hiring more workers at a brisk pace. Remember the worry that the Internet and robots were going to destroy all the jobs and America would be one long unemployment line? It’s not happening.
So now the worry is America is running out of workers. Not really. As wages rise, more working-age Americans who aren’t currently looking for a job will snatch them up. There are at least 10 million Americans who could be in the labor force if the offer to get off the sidelines is enticing enough.
The irony of all this is that at the very moment that the left wants to institute a “guaranteed livable income” for every American, President Trump is doing that and more by making sure that every last American who wants one can get a job.
• Stephen Moore, a columnist for The Washington Times, is an economic consultant with FreedomWorks and co-author of “Trumponomics: How the America First Plan Is Reviving our Economy.”
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