Rick's mailbag: 'People make more from government programs'

Rick Newman
Senior Columnist

Must every story criticize President Trump?

No! But mention his name, and somebody is likely to take offense.

We didn’t feel a recent story about labor shortages in the U.S. economy was especially critical of Trump. It mentioned his immigration policies as a potential problem, but also acknowledged that the main reason some companies can’t find enough workers is the U.S. economy is booming.

That’s Trump-bashing, to some. “You are a good lefty,” a reader named William wrote in. “Anything to avoid admitting how [well] Trump is doing. Lefty writers come cheap, $1,000 a week and you sell your soul.” Er, okay.

Other readers raised important points we plan to address in follow-up stories. Mike Guilbault of Portsmouth, N.H., argues that “the hiring process is broken. I believe the fault is squarely in the lap of human resources.” He complains about companies that use software to scan resumes for keywords that might (or might not) indicate relevant experience, and eliminate many candidates on that basis alone, before a human ever checks out the candidate. “The jobs will continue to be filled with people who know how to overcome HR algorithms,” he says, “not people who know how to excel at the underlying role.” We think he’s onto something.

Carolyn Roberts, who runs a geriatric home-care service in Paducah, Ky., says she has to turn down patients because she can’t get enough workers to man the shifts. And why can’t she? ”I have people who quit because they can make more from government programs if they have no income,” Roberts says. “Or they will take only so many hours because they are on disability.” We’ve heard other business owners make similar complaints. These anecdotal reports are difficult to substantiate at a systemic level, yet it’s also true that the portion of working-age men who have a job or are looking for one has declined significantly. Are they all on the dole? We hope to provide more insights in coming weeks.

Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com. Encrypted communication available.

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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman

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