‘People Don’t Want to Work’: Texas Manufacturers Are Angry About Labor Shortage

Texas manufacturers are raising wages, but it’s not enough to lure enough workers to keep pace with surging demand for factory goods, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The latest numbers for the monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey show all-time highs for indexes of manufacturing demand, labor, prices, and wages.

Many surveyed firms are blaming labor shortages on government benefits programs that make it relatively less attractive to work. “We need employees! It is hard to find anybody willing to work,” commented an executive at a manufacturer of fabricated metals.

“We are seeing purchase activities increase substantially,” said a machinery manufacturer. “Therefore, we are trying to hire to keep up with demand. But as usual, the government is getting in the way of our success with the unemployment benefits that turn employees into lazy Americans looking for handouts instead of depending on their efforts to improve their lives,”

Likewise, another machinery manufacturer said, “We need to hire people, but it’s difficult when people are making $15 per hour to stay at home on unemployment.”

A maker of transportation equipment commented, “Government payments are damaging the job market. Unchecked government spending is a time bomb. Unfulfilled demand is the only positive, and it will dissipate.”

“Government stimulus money given to individuals has drastically reduced the number of people seeking a job and reduced the incentive to show up and do their job,” said a food producer. “Labor is becoming a real problem as a direct result of the handouts.”

However, it wasn’t clear from these comments how much the firms were offering to pay prospective employees. Only one commenter referred to a starting wage of $14 per hour for non-skilled workers, which wasn’t high enough to fill 20-plus open positions.

He said, “It is very difficult to find employees to handle the significantly increased demand. We have never had this problem before in our 44-year history… People don’t want to go to work when they can stay home and collect $400 or more per week in unemployment.”

The survey showed that 37.8% of firms increased wages in April compared to the previous month, which is double the usual number since the Dallas Fed began the index.

Separately, a survey of service sector firms showed similar results. An executive at a company offering administrative services commented, “We have openings throughout the company that are unfilled. Moreover, there are no applicants applying for the positions.”

A manager at a food services firm said, “We are in desperate need of employees. We have massively increased our efforts to recruit, but no one wants to work. Most applicants say they are happy with their stimulus money and are living on it instead of using it to get ahead.”

Originally published at https://www.honestaustin.com on April 28, 2021.

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