Tag Archives: pandemic

Dearth of Skilled Workers Continues to Plague Employers

Despite the amount of unemployment created by the pandemic, the scarcity of skilled workers is growing more intense. Some industries have suffered more than others, however for people who are unemployed or pondering a transition to a skilled job with more security and higher pay – or need funding support for training – it’s a job seeker’s market.

A Divergence of Industries

Idaho and the nation were experiencing one of the longest periods of expansion in history prior to 2020. Finding skilled workers available to fill jobs had been a challenge for several years. Demographics and population growth limited the number of new people available to work. Hot industries were caught between increasing demand for services from the growing economy, and not having enough available workers to fill positions for skilled or unskilled workers. Government labor and training agencies were busy using pipeline training programs and apprenticeships to connect employers with workers.

In addition to the tragic loss of life, the economic disruption caused in the United States by Covid-19 has not been the same for each industry. The large number of job losses during 2020 were most concentrated in hospitality and consumer services – industries the pandemic impacted the most. Occupations most affected by layoffs tended to pay lower-than-average wages, resulting in the emergence of what some economists have dubbed the K-Shaped Recession. Figure 1 attempts to demonstrate this divergence of experience by lining out national wage experience into three categories or terciles.

Workers earning less than $16 per hour have endured more unemployment during the pandemic than occupations paying more $16 or more.

Figure 1: U.S. Job Losses by Wage Tercile

Source: Economic Policy Institute

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Labor Committed to Help Idahoans Navigate Difficult Times

Implementing CARES Act Will Take Time

by Idaho Department of Labor Director Jani Revier

As Idahoans grapple with the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and many face an uncertain economic future, I want to assure the people of Idaho that the Department of Labor is here to assist our fellow citizens through these difficult times.

Because of the rapid onset of the pandemic and immediacy of its impact on our economy, states across the country had almost no time to ramp up services to meet the urgent demand. Here in Idaho, we have seen a 4,400 percent increase in the number of claims being filed from the week prior to March 8, when Gov. Brad Little declared a state of emergency. Calls coming into our office have exploded and the sheer volume of web and phone traffic has caused strains on our staff and technical challenges for our systems.

We are redirecting department resources and hiring new people, but it will take time – several weeks – to address the issues and answer every question.

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