The evidence of it is everywhere -- at restaurants, factories, construction sites, even want ads. A couple in Chattanooga couldn't even go out to dinner without being greeted by a sign that read: "We are short staffed. Please be patient... No one wants to work anymore." In Indiana, the head of a trailer company told reporters, "I've never seen it this bad." Employers offer to pay more, give night and weekend incentives, and still -- they can't seem to find any applicants. "There's too much free money sitting out there to stay home," one said. And if something doesn't change -- and fast -- the worker shortage will be the least of America's worries.
The Democrats' COVID welfare -- a mix of generous unemployment benefits and stimulus checks -- is turning the country's workforce into a bunch of highly-paid couch potatoes. "The government is my main competitor right now," Labor Link's Todd Hein shook his head. In Indiana, where Hoosiers are getting about $600 a week in relief, most industries have no way to compete. "We did a four-hour job fair [in April]," Hein explained. "It was advertised and was on TV, and nobody showed up." And the vacancies are across the board. New York City's restaurant scene, like Ilili in Manhattan, are struggling to keep operating with more than 15 positions empty. But the CEO, Philippe Massoud, doesn't have to guess what the problem is. "If I was working a back-breaking job and making $600 a week and I had had the option of making $600 and not breaking my back -- the choice is obvious," he said.
Meanwhile, supply chains have been disrupted, prices are sky-high, and some employers are seriously considering moving their operations back overseas where they can find cheap labor -- or, at this point, any labor at all. "It's insanity that the government is paying people to be idle instead of taking the millions of jobs that are available right now," Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) fumed. Back in Georgia, he's hearing from desperate employers, who -- like the rest of us -- are watching the cost of lumber spike -- and wondering how much longer they can hold things together. "How does a business compete with Big Government like that?" he asked. "We can't."
Of course, the Biden administration -- whose entire agenda rests on government dependence -- merely shrugs. People aren't turning down jobs, the president claimed. In fact, he doubled down on the handouts, insisting that their plan to pay people $15-$25 an hour to do nothing is "working." Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) says she's "shocked" to hear statements like that from the president. "We couldn't be farther from the truth," she argued on "Washington Watch." "We're about 85 percent open in Indiana. We would be 100 percent open if the employers [could hire]... We have got to get people back to work and drop that extension of unemployment. It is literally paralyzing this country."
In her state, Indiana, kids have been back in school since October. That's when the state economy started taking off. "Our workforce was zooming back. This administration has not even been in power for six months, and they are destroying this economy." At the end of the day, Walorski pointed out, this is a family issue. "Their left pocket and their right pocket are going to be picked by the federal government -- and between not being able to hire, and the prices that are going through the roof as we see inflation hitting our state in our country by next summer. We're not going to recognize this place..."
Republicans, fortunately, aren't going to sit idly by as some American workers and let that happen. Loudermilk and others are frantically introducing bills to cut the federal unemployment checks before the damage is irreparable. Even the increasingly liberal U.S. Chamber of Commerce is chiming in, demanding that Democrats act to get the situation under control. And how are Democratic leaders responding? According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "The disappointing April jobs report highlights the urgent need to pass President Biden's American Jobs and Families Plan." In other words, we need more programs, we need more spending, we need more government -- which is exactly what created this drag on our economy in the first place.
In more conservative states, governors have decided they aren't waiting for Washington to flush their labor force down the tubes. In places like Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina, Republicans are moving quickly to slash millions of dollars in unemployment benefits. Indiana and Arizona are on deck to do the same. "More states are expected to follow," predicted Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), insisting that the president is in "denial" about the impact of his policies.
"Here we sit," Walorski said, "with the president crippled, looking at a large loss and it doesn't even move him to say, 'Let's buckle down and get serious about turning this country around.'" There's danger ahead, she warned. "Republicans are doing as much as we can. We're filing good bills." But at some point, she insisted, the country needs to "stand up and start taking this head on." That means Americans "putting pressure on the House speaker and their own representatives. This is a fight we better be in now to head this off -- or it's going to get out of control."