The U.S. economy has still lost millions of jobs compared to the number available before the pandemic began. Even so, companies across the country are struggling with labor shortages.
In some industries the problem is worse than in others. Take hospitality, for example. After being forced to close completely and then limit capacity, restaurants are finally getting the green light to reopen completely. Just a lot tilt fully reopened because they do not have the staff to handle their normal volume.
For months the legislature has been pointing the finger at the increased unemployment as the reason for this labor shortage. In March, the unemployed were given an additional $ 300 a week as unemployment benefits. This provision came in conjunction with the $ 1,400 economic check that has been in American bank accounts for months.
In recent weeks, many states have tried to end the topped-up benefits before their expiration date in early September. The logic was that unplugging this additional financial incentive would motivate more people to go out and find jobs rather than resorting to a more generous unemployment benefit check.
Given that many people – especially minimum wage workers – get more money from unemployment than they do from a job, it is easy to see why many countries have tried to end this boom early.
But those added benefits aren’t the only thing stopping people from getting a job. For low-income workers, childcare costs can be a huge barrier to employment, as they consume so much of their income that it is not worth keeping a job.
With the current labor shortage, companies are looking for creative ways to attract applicants. And that means some are offering childcare incentives to sweeten the deal.
► Childcare amid the coronavirus: When schools closed, women left working life
Throw a bone to working parents
Companies are already raising wages to attract more workers. But that alone may not be enough to overcome the childcare barrier. As a result, some companies offer direct childcare assistance in the hopes that this will bring more people into their ranks.
American McDonald’s restaurants, for example, are implementing an emergency childcare program. Other companies offer parents a monthly grant to cover their childcare costs.
In connection with the childcare allowance, some companies also offer employees more flexibility in organizing their working hours. The idea is to not only offer working parents a better work-life balance, but potentially also reduce their childcare costs by working remotely or at times that are better suited to their families’ needs.
These incentives, along with the reopening of schools for the 2021-2022 school year, may be enough to reintegrate large numbers of parents with more balanced personal finances into the labor market. And that would be good for the economy. If companies cannot fully reopen, our economic progress will be limited at best. And at a time when we all want to get away from the pandemic, that’s just not ideal.
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