Financial Post | ‘No one wants to work anymore’: Employers complaining about labour shortages may simply not be paying enough

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KI Executive Director Joe McCartin is Featured in a piece about the myth behind the common phrase “No one wants to work anymore” and the low wages which drive the current labor shortage

“It’s become apparent nobody wants to work in these hard times.”

Such statements have become emblematic of the Great Resignation (new window) and the years around the COVID-19 pandemic when workers quit en masse, refused to return to offices and embraced self-employment the most in more than a decade. The latest United States jobs report provided only more evidence: the labour force participation rate fell to the lowest level this year, and many restaurants, hotels and other businesses are still struggling with painful staffing shortages.

It turns out the quote comes from an editor of the Rooks County Record in Stockton, Kansas, lamenting coal mines shut down by strikes in April 1894. But it echoes recent sentiment: a Forbes story published in January, for example, cites a poll of executives that found one in five agreed with the statement “no one wants to work.”

In the same way, McCartin said, tropes about today’s labour shortages (new window) in industries like trucking, health care and the service industry get linked to the idea that people don’t want to work. “But that sidesteps the key issue, which is that a lot of jobs, for the amount of wear and tear and the hard labour involved — they just don’t pay enough,”

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