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Lower Skilled Workers: Bolder, or Scarcer?

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Lower Skilled Workers: Bolder, or Scarcer?

August 4, 2021

For more than a year, many employers have said they can't find workers. There are many sources of blame: high unemployment benefits, lack of childcare, and even a desire to change jobs. This figure from the NY Fed asks survey respondents how much they need to be paid to take a new job. We see a 22% increase since 2019 for non-college educated workers. It is only 4% for college educated workers, and the biggest increase in the history of the survey. Could this mean permanently higher wages for lower skill workers? Perhaps. Though some employers, especially smaller ones, don't make the profit margins to pay much higher wages.

If the autumn brings lower benefits and a return to school, we'll learn what is holding workers back and if wage demands will fall. Or we may see big changes in the labor market. 

Allison Schrager is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow her on Twitter here.

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