U.S. Talent Shortage: Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Monday, October 11, 2021

There are a reported 10.9 million job openings in the U.S, but companies are struggling to attract talent as employers across the country scramble for ways to fill their open requisitions. In the wake of record-high pandemic unemployment, the question begs: Where are all the workers?

The labor market’s power dynamic has shifted – U.S. workers now have the upper hand, and they know it. Lockdown life during the pandemic continues to recede, prompting workers to leave their jobs in search of more money, flexibility, and career advancement. As the pandemic validated the efficiency of remote work, people have had time to evaluate their careers and realign what matters most to them. Now in a market with a vast number of open jobs, employees have no hesitation jumping ship for greener pastures that best suit their needs.

Our latest labor market report sheds insight on the root causes spurring the massive talent shortage, how industries are navigating the shifting labor market, and how technology coupled with strong programs can help companies find and retain the talent they need.

Emerging Trends and Shifting Expectations  

Workers are prioritizing opportunities that provide them with the workplace attributes that they value most. According to our ENGAGE 5DSM profile, career growth is the most valued attribute (34% above the national average), followed by a positive environment, company resilience, business stability, and strong leadership.

In addition to these valued attributes, we’ve found the following emerging trends that are reshaping worker expectations and leading to higher resignation rates.

  • President Biden’s order on non-competes
    In the past, non-competes restricted an employee’s power to change jobs because it allowed for an organization to take legal action against an employee for breaching a contract. Now as non-competes are seemingly dissipating, workers will have more freedom to pursue new opportunities at their desire.
  • Work-life balance and the battle with burnout
    Work-life balance has always been a significantly sought-after job benefit. But now there is concrete evidence that remote work works! The work-from-home mandates have proven that employees are just as, if not more, productive when working from home, and that flexible working hours can be achieved without sacrificing quality. Moreover, the pandemic has taken a mental toll on workers in high-stress industries (such as banking), prompting them to put their mental health first – they’ll quit to work for an organization that prioritizes their health and happiness, or work for a completely different industry altogether. To avoid losing talent, organizations need to prioritize their workers’ well-being and expectations for work from home flexibility.
  • Compensation
    Inadequate pay and benefits are the primary motives for workers leaving their jobs. But making a competitive pay decision goes well beyond meeting or exceeding an industry benchmark or dated rate card. To remain competitive in today’s market, employers need to embrace predictive analytics based on their organization’s unique characteristics. Those that don’t will lose their valuable talent to companies who are willing to pay workers what they deserve and expect.

Keeping the Edge in Today’s Talent Market

In today’s hyper-competitive talent market, companies need an edge to win and keep valuable workers – they need intelligence, experienced advisors, and innovative technology. Every investment Workforce Logiq makes in our portfolio – people, technology, and services – is designed to give our clients that edge – to find, hire, and keep the best talent even during the most turbulent of times.

For more information about the current U.S. Talent Shortage, download the report.

Read U.S. Talent Shortage Part 2

Read U.S. Talent Shortage Part 3


Christy Petrosso (Whitehead), Chief Data Scientist and Talent Economist

Christy Petrosso (Whitehead) is our Chief Data Scientist and Talent Economist, leading the strategy and design of our predictive AI algorithms and machine learning models.  Christy joined our leadership team in October 2019 with the acquisition of ENGAGE Talent. Christy holds a PhD in Economics from Clemson University and has focused her career on employment and labor economics. Her previous experiences include key data science roles with PeopleMatter (acquired by Snag A Job) and Equifax. Christy is a frequent speaker in HR Analytics and machine learning conferences. She is also an active member of the Federal Reserve Roundtable.

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