每日英語跟讀 Ep.K254: The Revolt of the American Worker
All happy economies are alike; each unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the economy’s problems were all about inadequate demand. The housing boom had gone bust; consumers weren’t spending enough to fill the gap; the Obama stimulus, designed to boost demand, was too small and short-lived.
In 2021, by contrast, many of our problems seem to be about inadequate supply. Goods can’t reach consumers because ports are clogged; a shortage of semiconductor chips has crimped auto production; many employers report that they’re having a hard time finding workers.
Much of this is probably transitory, although supply-chain disruptions will clearly last for a while. But something more fundamental and lasting may be happening in the labor market. Long-suffering American workers, who have been underpaid and overworked for years, may have hit their breaking point.
About those supply-chain issues: It’s important to realize that more goods are reaching Americans than ever before. The problem is that despite increased deliveries, the system isn’t managing to keep up with extraordinary demand.
Earlier in the pandemic, people compensated for the loss of many services by buying stuff instead. People who couldn’t eat out remodeled their kitchens. People who couldn’t go to gyms bought home exercise equipment.
But things will improve. As COVID-19 subsides and life gradually returns to normal, consumers will buy more services and less stuff, reducing the pressure on ports, trucking and railroads.
The labor situation, by contrast, looks like a genuine reduction in supply. Total employment is still 5 million below its pre-pandemic peak. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is still down
more than 9%. Yet everything we see suggests a very tight labor market.
It seems quite possible that the pandemic, by upending many Americans’ lives, also caused some of them to reconsider their life choices. Not everyone can afford to quit a hated job, but a significant number of workers seem ready to accept the risk of trying something different — retiring earlier despite the monetary cost, looking for a less unpleasant job in a different industry, and so on.
And although this new choosiness by workers who feel empowered is making consumers’ and business owners’ lives more difficult, let’s be clear: Overall, it’s a good thing. American workers are insisting on a better deal, and it’s in the nation’s interest that they get it.
自覺有權這樣做的勞工們這種新的挑剔情形，雖然讓消費者跟企業主的生活更艱難，但我們要知道，整體來說這是一件好事。美國勞工堅持更好的待遇，讓他們得到符合國家利益。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5853765