Jobs Americans won’t do — their old ones

Some conservatives dispute the idea that there are “jobs Americans won’t do.” In my neighborhood, however, there are jobs that only recent immigrants seem willing to perform, even when the compensation is quite generous (e.g., shoveling snow for a few hours after a big storm for $300 or more).

Now, there is a new set of jobs that many Americans seem very reluctant to do — the ones they did before the pandemic.

Anyone paying attention has noticed this phenomenon. Megan McArdle discusses it in this column.

She writes:

Something such as a Great Reset seems to be happening across the U.S. labor market. Workers are thinking about what they want from a post-pandemic job — and the answer for many seems to be something very different than what they had before.

A Joblist poll of 13,000 job-hunters found that more than half of all hospitality workers say they won’t go back to their old jobs, and a third won’t even consider going back to the industry. They want better pay, better benefits and less physically demanding employment.

Of course, a survey of job seekers is going to be biased toward the workers who are unhappy at their old jobs. But there’s evidence of reticence in the broader job market, where service businesses are struggling to find enough workers to reopen — a problem even higher wages don’t seem to have entirely fixed.

This situation will change once the government stops granting extended unemployment benefits and sending stimulus checks. However, it’s not clear that things will ever return to normal in the job market. It’s easy to imagine labor shortages persisting in the service industry.

If they do, we can expect increased reliance by employers on illegal immigrants to fill the gaps. And if Americans have become too lazy or too entitled to work in their old jobs, a surge in illegal immigration is what the country deserves.

Responses