Where are the Workers? Examining the Labor Shortage

The Hinckley Institute Radio Hour (Original Air Date: October 27, 2021) — This week on the program, a panel looks at the current forces at play in the labor market, the demand for more workers and the way this has contributed to a rise in strikes across U.S. industries.

According to a new Deseret News and Hinckley Institute poll, 54 percent of Utahns somewhat or strongly approve of labor unions, 35 percent disapprove and 10 percent said they didn’t know. A nationwide Gallup poll shows Utah trails the rest of the U.S. which recorded a 68 percent approval for labor unions last August, a historic high not seen since 1965. While Utahn’s favorability towards unions is highly correlated with those who identify as “very liberal,” and markedly lower with the “very conservative,” 42 percent of Utah Republicans said they approve of the labor organizing occurring under Starbucks, Amazon and other major companies.

This week’s panel of experts discusses the tight labor market, a rise in striking workers and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. Included on the panel is Dean Baker, visiting professor at the University of Utah’s Economics Department; Mark Knold, chief economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services; Byron Russell, co-chair of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs; and Melva Sine, president and CEO of the Utah Restaurant Association. Moderating today’s discussion is Natalie Gochnour,  director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

This forum was recorded on September 29, 2021.