Jim Cramer says finding workers is becoming the key question facing U.S. businesses.
Unfortunately, there’s no good answer to that question, even though the nation needs an answer right now.
“Where did all the workers go?,” . “Where are all the people who would be driving the trucks or working the ports or working in manufacturing? Aren't they enticed by $22-an-hour wages starting now, the prevailing wage I saw this weekend in the suburb I go to get some peace and quiet?”
Cramer says he’s asking a lot of smart people where the workers have all gone, but there’s too much uncertainty in play to get a good answer.
“The real question is where are the people who would normally seem to jump at the jobs,” Cramer said. “Many observers, including yours truly, thought that when the outsized unemployment benefits run out, people would come back to work. I thought that because the ride-sharing companies indicated so. But it's not translated into the wholesale return we expected.”
Another big issue is the younger generation, which has more pocket money than previous generations and doesn’t feel the need to work full time.
“Many younger people have a lot more money than they would normally at this stage in their career,” Cramer noted. “This is not my generation's thinking, but it is entirely possible that they simply don't need to work yet. They are still in good shape and would rather trade their accounts or play video games or pick up a little extra cash as an Uber (UBER) driver.”
Cramer also sees a great wealth transfer going on between the boomers and their children that amounts to a windfall, given how many parents invested in index funds for their kids. Couple that with the border problem, where immigrants are no longer here to hold down good jobs and care for their families, and the COVID issue, where many Americans are rethinking their work lives, and there’s an employment problem that America has never seen before.
“Going forward, we’ll be worried about wage inflation and the need to cool the economy, so fewer people are needed because there is less business being done,” Cramer said. “It's not a way to restore the economy. It's just a way to explain what has to happen to get to the new normal of higher wages and people to fill the jobs needed to get this economy working right.”