A social media post by a Florida worker has shone new light on the debate over the so-called labor shortage in the United States, revealing that employer behavior is largely the reason why businesses currently can’t seem to find enough workers.
Joey Holz, a former food service worker and charter boat crew member, was tired of hearing complaints about a labor shortage, both online and offline.
According to reporting from Business Insider, Holz first recalled hearing about the so-called shortage through a “rant” from an individual managing a plasma donation clinic in Fort Myers, Florida. That person expressed frustration to Holz, claiming that they couldn’t find help and that they couldn’t “keep anybody in [their] medical facility because they all quit over the stimulus checks.”
“I’m like, ‘Your medical professionals quit over $1,200 checks? That’s weird,” Holz said.
Holz then joined a Facebook group showcasing employers from across the country making similar complaints. Many of the comments blamed stimulus payments and extended unemployment benefits for the supposed worker shortage — even though 26 states ended extended unemployment benefits in June and July, and the benefits expired nationwide in September.
To discern if employers’ complaints were real or imagined, Holz decided to set up a social experiment: He spent the entire month of September sending out job applications.
In total, he sent around 60 applications to employers in his area, each in response to a posting seeking entry-level help for a job he was qualified to work for.
“I didn’t apply for anything that required a degree,” Holz explained. “I didn’t apply for anything that said ‘must have six months experience in this thing.'”
After applying to 58 places, Holz was invited to a single interview. The job involved cleaning construction sites and advertised a payment rate of $10 an hour for full-time work — but when Holz arrived at the interview, he found that though the job had the potential to reach that rate, it would only pay $8.65 an hour at its start. The employer would also only offer part-time work until he gained seniority on the construction crew.
“58 applications says y’all aren’t desperate for workers, you just miss your slaves,” Holz noted in a Facebook post sharing his findings.
Joey Holz sent out 60 applications, received 16 email responses, 4 follow-up phone calls, and one solitary interview, and shared a pie chart showing his results. Joey Holz decided to test their claims, submitting 2 applications/day in Sept https://t.co/acxBZSDezv via @YahooNews pic.twitter.com/CXNENrobLc
— Silver Eagle (@SandDollar04) October 19, 2021
Holz said that only 5 percent of his applications resulted in a phone call from employers. Another 20 percent of his applications resulted in an email response. But nearly three quarters of his applications were completely ignored.
Social media users responded to Holz’s experiment, agreeing that the labor shortage so many employers are lamenting is a result of how employees are being treated, rather than a lack of willingness to work.
“There’s no labor shortage; There’s a shortage of employers paying fair wages,” wrote one user on Twitter.
A local news reporter in Florida offered his own take on the story. “Alternative Headline: Florida Man Shows Hiring Shortages Aren’t Due To ‘Lazy’ People,” wrote Spectrum News affiliate reporter Greg Angel.
Alternative Headline: Florida Man Shows Hiring Shortages Aren’t Due To “Lazy” People.
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 20, 2021
“Businesses, not workers, are the problem” when it comes to finding workers, opined writer Rich Campbell.
Labor leaders and politicians also weighed in on the issue.
“Is anyone seeing that labor shortage the GOP keeps wailing about? Because all I’m seeing is a wage shortage for workers and poor hiring practices,” wrote Scott Huffman, a candidate for Congress in North Carolina.
David Schapira, a union official in California, said that “long-standing worker oppression, poverty wages & poor working conditions” were the real reason behind labor shortages. “Employers have power to end this crisis!” he added.
Extended unemployment benefits have expired, and employers still can’t fill jobs. It’s time to confront the real causes of worker shortages: long-standing worker oppression, poverty wages & poor working conditions. Employers have power to end this crisis!https://t.co/QhAIprmiOI
— David Schapira (@dschapira) October 20, 2021
Georgia state Rep. Renitta Shannon (D) also shared the article describing Holz’s research, noting that Gov. Brian Kemp (R) had pushed the false claims that federal assistance to workers had somehow contributed to worker shortages.
“No surprise here,” Shannon tweeted, adding that “anti worker policies = bad for businesses.”
On his own part, Holz also told Business Insider that he didn’t feel the need to leave his real job because he is treated well there by his boss.
“Nobody leaves those positions because he takes care of his people,” Holz noted.