For over a year now, the biggest mystery for Wall Street has been: “Where have all the workers gone?” The country is currently going through the biggest number of job openings, in recent memory.
You've no doubt seen the “help wanted” signs. They're everywhere. From small stores to giant corporations, it seems that everyone is short-staffed.
Reports are surfacing that airlines are having trouble scheduling flights, because of missing workers. Hospitals also are having issues finding people to man their 24-hour schedules. Stores, restaurants, and services it's all the same story.
Not enough workers to go around.
It was a very big story in the financial press last year. You may recall seeing literally dozens of stories about the lack of workers. But that was last year. As in so many things, Wall Street has moved on. Unable to find a ready answer to the puzzle, the Street has simply moved on to other topics by now.
And that's unfortunate. You see, sometimes it takes a while for the data to come in. The data will give us a good overview, the big-picture of what's really occurring. But that appears to be just what's happening with all of the missing workers.
Oh, there is one other factor to consider. And that is that the answer to the missing workers may be decidedly not politically correct. Not something that the powers that be, want to hear.
Nonetheless, let's see where the numbers may lead.
Currently, there are over 11 million job openings in the economy. That's over 7% of the total workforce. The largest number of job openings in our data banks. And far exceeding anything else we've seen.
For 20 years, from 2001 until 2021 job openings never exceeded 7 ½ million. And the average number of job openings during that 20-year span was fewer than 5 million.
Now there are many reasons for a position to be unfilled. A company is expanding, creating new openings. A position may pay too little. Less than the going rate. And a job may be left open. Or there simply aren't qualified candidates to fill that position. Too few airline pilots or surgeons can cause job openings.
And the reason that people leave a job, maybe many and varied also. Retirement, accepting a better position, a geographic move. The list goes on and on. After Wall Street heard of the current job openings, they posited another new reason. People would rather stay home and collect unemployment and stimulus checks than go back to work.
All of those, and I'm sure many more may be true. But for 4 million people to suddenly no longer show up for work, tells me that something more is happening currently.
That, in addition to the usual reasons for job opening, something else is at work now. A new factor that we haven't seen before.
At first, I thought that it might be the Pandemic that caused these job openings. Now the Pandemic, as you'll recall, began in China in January/February of 2020.
For a solid year, until December 2021, the nation was vulnerable to the disease. Facing it without a vaccine. The vaccine would not receive Emergency Use Authorization until December 10th, 2020, with the first shots administered on December 14th.
And here is the curious part. There were no increases in job openings throughout 2020, the year of the pandemic. We began 2020 with 7 million job openings and ended the year with 6.9 million openings. Job openings actually went down in 2020.
But everything changed the next year in 2021. Openings were increasing throughout the year. In January 300,000 more openings than we ended 2020. By June nearly 2 million more openings than we ended in 2020. By December double June's number with 4.6 million more job openings than we ended 2020.
A remarkable climb don't you think?
To the highest number of job openings ever recorded, nearly 11 ½ million jobs waiting to be filled come December 2021.
What could account for such a dramatic change in job openings for 2021? As we said there are many individual factors that can cause someone to leave their job, and create an opening. But that's already accounted for in that base number.
No, something was different in 2021. Something that we haven't seen before. It wasn't the Covid Disease. As we said there was no change in job openings in 2021, the year we faced the disease without a vaccine.
No, the variable that was added to the job opening equation in 2021, was the vaccine itself. Rember Emergency Use Authorization started in December.
Throughout 2021, more and more workers were vaccinated. No doubt some of those vaccinated endured an adverse event. Something that might cause them not to look for work. At least not immediately.
We know that some have experienced adverse events. It is reported in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, VAERS. VAERS currently records 1.2 million adverse events to the vaccine.
An interesting conclusion isn't it?
Something that the political and medical establishment does not want to hear. And yet it seems like the most likely answer to our question.
As Sherlock Holmes would say:
“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes