Episode 170: Where have all the workers gone?

The economy grows when people are working. But, there are fewer people than before COVID who are working. What happened, and where did all the workers go?
Where Have All The Workers Gone?


In this episode, Mak & G talk about why people aren’t going back to work now that COVID has ended, different ways companies are incentivizing people to join them, and how people are looking for alternative ways to make money.


There are more jobs available than ever but not enough people to work them, what’s going on?


Why aren’t people getting back to work now COVID is over, don’t people need to make money?


In this episode, Mak & G look at why people aren’t going back to work, what companies are doing to attract new employees, and some strange incentives that companies are giving their employees to stay with them…


“Jobs are important for growing businesses and the economy.” – Mak and G

Time Stamps:

00:35 – The difference between private school and public school.

01:25 – The difficulty of getting workers since COVID.

01:52 – What the US Chamber of Commerce is.

02:05 – Why jobs are important to the economy.

02:26 – The disparity between available jobs and available workers.

03:02 – Why people don’t want to go back to work.

03:57 – How much money people have saved since COVID.

04:26 – The number of people that retired early.

04:42 – The vicious cycle of childcare.

05:01 – The number of new businesses created since 2020 and the rise of the gig economy.

05:52 – How many millennials are moving back in with their parents.

06:18 – What companies are doing to encourage people back to work.

06:56 – Strange incentives companies are giving their employees.




US Chamber of Commerce


Connect with Ben Jones:



MAKWelcome back to Money with Mak & G.  Thanks for being here.  Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE and COMMENT on the podcast, or check out the EduCounting YouTube channel. 

GRANT: If you head to the EduCounting website, you’ll get a pop-up for our free Stocks and Bonds course. We did have a lot of fun recording it, and it has lots of great info for anyone.  So, take a look.

MAK: Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve been in these seats.  High school started, and it’s a bit of an adjustment.  We were at a private school with 60 students a grade and now it’s a public school….

GRANT: And, there are over 1,400 students per grade.  So, a lot of things are different. The bus instead of a personal “mom chauffeur”. It’s been fun having a Cafe to buy food or coffee for a mid-day pick-me-up.

MAK: I got to admit, that is very cool, and there are tons of people to meet.  My art class is the bomb, lots of cool people in there.  And, I think you’re digging your Japanese class, right?

GRANT: Hai, watashi wa nihongo ga daisukidesu. That means I love it.  But, it takes a lot of work and you have to memorize all these different characters. It sometimes feels like a bit too much.

MAK: Speaking of characters, I’ve met people who make me laugh and are real characters. Hey, it’s good to be back on the air. Have you heard dad complaining recently that hiring people to work is impossible?

GRANT: Yeah, he keeps saying that they’re trying everything to make people WANT to work.  He’s offered sign-on bonuses, higher wages, benefits, and all kinds of things, but they haven’t had much luck.

MAK: They even offered tickets to the Indy 500, Barbecue cookouts, and electronics. He said it had something to do with COVID, so I took a look and found this article from the US Chamber of Commerce.

GRANT: The Chamber, as it’s known, is an organization for business.  People join and work together. They share ideas, info, and they think about how to help businesses grow any way they can.

MAK: Now that you’re back to school, you’re doing your homework. Nice one G! The chamber found many businesses have trouble finding workers. They’ve done some research. Jobs are important:

            MAK/GRANT: For Growing Businesses AND the Economy.

GRANT: Yep, the economy is how money moves around and the more people working and producing, the more money moves around and the economy grows.  So, school me, sis.  What’s going on?

MAK: Ok, let’s start with the BIG picture.  There are 10 million job openings and ONLY 6 million unemployed workers.  Do you think you can do the math on that one?  I know it’s not geometry.

GRANTHa, ha.  If you have 10 million jobs out there, but only 6 million potential workers, that means you’ll have 4 million jobs that will remain open, and that’s even if there is an exact fit for each job that’s open.

MAK: Great point. If someone has experience in selling farm equipment, but a business needs a computer programmer for Roblox, for instance, that’s not a fit. So, that’s one more:

            MAK/GRANT: Unfilled job!

GRANT: Ok, when COVID shut down many businesses, there were 30 MILLION workers unemployed.  A lot of jobs have come back. But, there are 3 million fewer people trying to work compared to before COVID. 

MAK: That must mean that stuff happened when they were unemployed which made them decide not to come back. The Chamber asked people who were unemployed when COVID hit why.

GRANT: This is interesting. In my research, I found some interesting stuff.  First, moms and dads had different reasons for not coming back to work. Do you have any ideas sis?  

MAK: I read that one out of 3 moms aren’t coming back because they have to be home to care for kids or other family members. It’s made it difficult or impossible to return. What did you find out about dads?

GRANT: Their biggest reason, which 30% of men responded said it’s because their industry is still hurting.  Plus, there is also a mix of people who are still concerned about COVID at work and don’t want to come back.  

MAK: Sounds like they’re not being paid enough to face the risk they see with COVID to come back. 

GRANT: Well, it’s funny you mention that because since COVID began, people put $4 trillion into savings due to COVID checks, unemployment payments, and more. 

MAK: Are the unemployment payments the money given to those unemployed to help with bills while they find a new job? Plus, it includes the extra money granted to get them through the extra downtime of COVID?

GRANT: Yep. They found that about 7 out of 10 people made more when unemployed compared to working because of the extra help. So, they didn’t have to take the first job they found, because they had an:

            MAK/GRANT: Emergency Fund

MAK: It’s weird to think people are a bit better off, but the numbers tell an interesting story.  Plus, those who were older and thinking about retiring decided not to come back.  That’s 3 million people who simply:

            MAK/GRANT: Retired

GRANT: Wow, the numbers are adding up. I found that in order for many women to get back to work they needed childcare, but those companies couldn’t find employees and closed down or took fewer kids.

MAK: Which meant that moms couldn’t return. A vicious circle for sure.  So, the percent of women in the workforce is the lowest it’s been in about 50 years. That’s half a century, and things were different then.

GRANT: Did you see that 10 million new businesses were created since 2020? It would seem that a lot of people wanted to go out on their own and try something new.  The gig economy was really kicking in.

MAK: Seems that way. People trying to make their hobbies a thriving financial reality.  And, it seems people got really inspired to quit their jobs and search for better opportunities or just more free time.

GRANT: Who wouldn’t love MORE free time?  Can you say: Video Games? How can you blame them? But, it does seem that more people who resigned may not have found that perfect job with extra free time.

MAK: That means they are still out of the workforce, or possibly frustrated and decided not to return.

GRANT: It seems like a potentially difficult situation for many businesses. People decide to work, stay home, not work, or somewhere in between.  But, don’t you need a place to live and eat? 

MAK: Sounds like living with mom and dad, like we do is the answer.  Did you see that article that said 50% of millennials plan to move back home after college and stay for at least two years, with most living rent-free?

GRANT: Sounds like that two years may turn into more like 5.  I know dad would be putting on his thickest pair of boots and kicking our butts out.  That’s a lot of people who can decide not to work. 

MAK: You got that right.  So what are companies doing to get people back to work?

GRANT: I didn’t look into that, but I guess a gaming system might get me interested. What’d you find?

MAK: Did you see that some companies offer UNLIMITED vacation days?  I’m not sure how that works.  Couldn’t you simply always be on vacation?  

GRANT: I guess you could, but you have to get your work done. There’s research that says on average employees with unlimited vacation take 13 days per year which is actually two days LESS than those with specific limited time.

MAK: That’s really hard to believe.  Hey, do you want to name off some cool and some wacky other benefits that companies are offering to get and keep employees?

            GRANT: Sure, let’s do it. I’ll start….. Bring your dog to work

            MAK: Unlimited high fives

            GRANT: A personal assistant for everyone.

            MAK: Onsite workout classes

            GRANT: Free mechanical bull rides across the street

            MAK: All the snacks you can carry

            GRANT: Free season passes to the local ski resort

            MAK: Pet insurance

            GRANT: Unlimited usage of the ping pong table

            MAK: RV rental discounts

            GRANT: Free beer Fridays

MAK: There are some wacky items in that list, but there is fantastic paid time off at places like Netflix, Etsy, and Amazon, where you get 20 weeks to unlimited time off when having a kid.

GRANT: Do dads get the time off too?  It’s not just moms, right?

MAK: Yep, dads are included, for sure. Some even have the same thing if you have a puppy.

GRANT: That sounds like fun. But, the way mom and dad tell it after we were born, they couldn’t wait to get back to work.

MAK: Not because of me!!

GRANT: Nice try.  But it does sound like companies are trying a lot because it’s tough out there.  I think it’s time to go.

MAK: I agree. Thanks for being here, and we’ll see you next time for more Money With Mak & G!!!  BYE!!

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