Great Jobs Report, But Some Jobs Need Filling. Now.
The headlines for the August job numbers released September 7 are nothing but good. Employers added a robust 201,000 jobs, the unemployment rate remained at the rock-bottom level of 3.9%, and wages grew the fastest they have in nine years.
The jobs report also showed a surge in those counted as not in the labor force. The number rose by 692,000 to 96.3 million.
So while the low unemployment rate should be nothing but good news, it’s also led to labor shortages. Foodservice needs servers and back-of-the-house help, and the trucking industry desperately needs drivers to deliver food, supplies, equipment and other goods.
Due to the trucking industry’s labor crunch, U.S. shipping rates jumped 14% in the year ended June 30, sending truck use to nearly full capacity, according to Freight Transportation Research Associates. That likely means tighter margins for operators and higher prices for their customers.
In June, members of the National Restaurant Association and other retail trade groups said they supported getting younger drivers on the road to help alleviate the crunch. While most U.S. states allow 18-year-olds to get a commercial driver's license, they're not allowed on the interstate until they're 21.
"Congress should support this effort to help fill desperately needed jobs," the groups said in the June 18 letter. "Companies are being forced to increase prices to account for higher transportation costs. This will ultimately result in higher prices for consumers."