The mysterious lost workers: What’s driving the shortage?

The mysterious lost workers: What’s driving the shortage? Main Photo

22 Jun 2021

A drive on just about any Minnesota highway reveals dozens of “Now hiring” signs from desperate employers, some offering hundreds of dollars in signing bonuses. Manufacturers, restaurant chains, agribusinesses, and health care organizations are among the many companies that say they’re in dire need of workers. In the Twin Cities, “Help Wanted” signs hang from windows of independent restaurants, cafés, auto repair shops, and countless other businesses.

It’s a remarkable about-face from a year ago, when government-mandated shutdowns and a temporarily contracted economy forced many Minnesotans out of work. It’s also a phenomenon that has produced headline after headline about the ongoing worker shortage, in Minnesota and nationally. “Millions are unemployed,” read a May 6 headline in The Wall Street Journal. “Why can’t companies find workers?”

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