One of the things that have become incredibly confusing is the mixed signals regarding the health and vitality of the American labor market, and the overall economic health of the United States. We’re told again and again the labor market is hot by know-nothing scribblers online from Business Insider to Time. We’re told by establishment media employers are finding it difficult to find workers. The reality is the labor market participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1977. It’s not an employee’s job market regardless of all of the confusing articles posted by writers who draw far-reaching conclusions because they drove past a few restaurants with signs declaring NOW HIRING and SIGNING BONUS. For Americans that formerly had health insurance and decent benefits for years, the plethora of entry-level jobs is unappealing and not truly a sign of economic recovery.
There are many other reasons to reject the misplaced optimism of journalists and politicians that boast of an economic recovery. For starters, the pandemic up-ended the stability of many metroplexes associated with a high cost of living. In all reality, many workers regardless of familial ties may simply not be coming back to these areas. Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Saint Louis, and many mid-sized cities in the Rust Belt are all shrinking and have suffered a net exodus of people for many months. Why? When these urbanites lived in their former urban homes and were actively employed, they were already flying out of the seat of their pants, coping with an exorbitantly high cost of living, and diminished credit rating as their debt-to-income ratio climbed precipitously. They were despondent with stress from sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic to office politics to rising grocery prices. Politicians and busybody city councils greeted them with ever-increasing taxes. Resultantly amid the pandemic labor market recession, urbanites fled to rural and small-town America seeking to downsize their costly metroplex lifestyles, nevertheless remaining insecure in some temporary vocation afterward. They are now introverted to family life. Some working spouses even opted to take off and embrace childrearing and homeschooling as public schools continued to shutter their doors. Countless others opted for remote work making their relocation more tenable given that rural and small-town America aren’t awash in locally-sourced jobs.
In rural tranquility, these urban emigres have embraced frugality, penny-pinching, and a simple calculus of a lower monthly rent or mortgage payment. Many Americans from Gen X-ers to Millennials are opting out of urban life. What this doesn’t mean is that their new lives are necessarily one of prosperity, but supposed “higher wages” and “signing bonuses” are unlikely to attract them back to the big costly metroplexes.
After years of struggle, stress, and hardship, urban emigres have come to value the simplicity of life, and the little things like their domestic life and family relationships. Given the current labor troubles, many industries in urban areas are on the cusp of being upended, facing closure, and it’s a portent of a coming economic recession, regardless of the inflationary paper ledgermein games that Uncle Sam plays with stimulus spending and subsidizing idleness. The major urban hubs have been disrupted in America’s longstanding trend towards disruptive innovation, and they’ve proven themselves inhospitable to an ideal quality of life.
The other thing is regardless of how dissimilar Americans are on politics, collectively everyone is sick of the neoliberal policies of the elites and political class. Urban industries too face higher taxes and a higher cost of labor, so their already fragile urban ecosystems desperately need to sustain beneficial economies of scale related to their labor inputs and outputs, and interim if they cannot obtain enough workers to stay profitable, failure of these enterprises is inevitable. Labor market recession thus is a genuine prospect.*
“Job Openings Are at Record Highs. Why Aren’t Unemployed Americans Filling Them?” – Wall Street Journal
“Urban Emigration: A Worrisome Outlook for American Cities” – Epoch Times