People flock to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, like they do every summer. The easing of pandemic rules means tourists are more comfortable interacting with others in crowded places. Surprises await those visiting Orlando. The labor shortage in America means there are millions more jobs in America than there are workers.
At Disneyland, this means closed rides and limited restaurant availability simply because there aren’t enough people to work. According to Disneyland, the biggest shortage is being felt in live entertainment and hospitality, sectors that have been left out in the post-pandemic hiring market.
It’s not just Disneyland’s problem. Across the United States, Americans are witnessing a phenomenon they have never experienced before. Fast-food restaurants are closing drive-thru lanes because there are no people to take them to work. At giant supermarket chains like Walmart and Target, checkout lanes have been limited to one or two cashiers as hundreds of customers wait for their turn. And the problem is worse for small business owners, some of whom have closed up shop entirely because they haven’t been able to retain employees.
The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been called “the world’s largest business organization”, states: “During the pandemic reshuffle, jobs that require in-person attendance and traditionally low wages, workers have a more difficult time keeping up. For example, the leisure and hospitality and retail industries have the highest dropout rates since November 2020, consistently above 4.5 percent.”
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Things are not much better in the United Kingdom. Over the past few weeks, disturbing photos of Heathrow, strewn with mass of abandoned items, have circulated across the Internet. Some poor passengers who have had to travel through the airport have reported that they could not take back their luggage for five or six days. In fact, they are the lucky ones who are able to fly. In Charles de Gaulle, France, people have to line up more than three hours before their flight to successfully pass security. There are not enough security guards to keep the lines running at the proper speed.
As a labour-exporting country, Pakistan must take advantage of the labor shortage abroad.
There is no one cause or solution to this labor crisis. Both the US and the UK have low population growth rates. Add to this the reshuffle caused by COVID-19 and the phenomenon called ‘The Great Regeneration’ (which saw millions of Americans quit their corporate jobs), and you have the disaster that is the current job market.
It is also true that the long-term forecast for the jobs people are leaving is not good. The hospitality industry has seen huge cuts during and after Covid-19 as business travel, their biggest driver of revenue, lags behind pre-pandemic rates. As far as checkout lanes and stocking shelves go – well, everyone in the increasingly automated retail sector knows these jobs are soon to be replaced by robots and other forms of automation.
However, adjusting for all this would still leave millions of jobs open. Last week, the Baker Institute at Rice University released a report arguing that foreign-born workers should be part of the solution. The report suggests that although only 1.8 percent of American immigrants work in farming, fishing or forestry, they account for about 35.3 percent of all workers in the occupation. Similarly, a high percentage of immigrants make up workers in construction, hospitality, cleaning and building maintenance.
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The Baker Institute report sees no way out of this puzzle except to create a United States work-based immigration program that allows foreign-born workers to fill the gap in the American economy. “The government should also expand some of the existing temporary visa programs and create separate programs for additional temporary workers,” it says.
While this report primarily looks at low-skilled workers, companies are struggling in their effort to hire high-skilled workers as well. Tech companies are desperate to hire cybersecurity workers; According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there are more than 700,000 cybersecurity jobs lying open and unfilled in the US.
As a labour-exporting country, Pakistan must pay close attention to the emerging demand for workers abroad.
The current anti-immigrant sentiment in the US and the generally broken US immigration system mean that any job that can be automated or transferred to remote work will go that way. While jobs requiring manual labor would be filled by migrant workers from Mexico and the southern border, most of the others would be automated and sent abroad. Automation could mean that jobs such as operating the checkout counter at a supermarket – traditionally a job that required an employee to be physically present – are now performed by a worker living in another country thousands of miles away. can go.
Before the pandemic, one in 67 American jobs was remote and could be done by a worker located anywhere in the world, according to a recent segment aired on the US news show 60 Minutes. In post-pandemic America, one in seven jobs are said to be remote. Currently, most of these job positions are filled by American workers, as most prefer the flexibility of remote work. However, remote work could also become the employment opportunity of the century for skilled workers in other parts of the world.
While it is likely that US lawmakers will eventually pass laws preventing the ‘export’ of remote jobs, these currently do not exist. Highly skilled workers in Pakistan should prepare their resume on LinkedIn and be active in applying for positions that were previously unavailable to them due to visa issues. While the US may have fewer workers than ever before, millions of them are eager and available to work from Pakistan.