“The people shortage is systemic, and it’s fundamentally changing how businesses should prepare for economic slowdowns,” argued Ron Hetrick, a senior economist at Lightcast, a labor market analytics firm. “If the U.S. does see some sort of recession in 2023, it will be less about persistent worker displacement and more about employers finally being able to fill the roles they’ve had open for the past several years.”
Baby boomers are retiring. And with political gridlock set to pick up in Washington, some federal legislative proposals intended to expand the labor pool — like immigration reform or an expansion of child care support — are unlikely to become law anytime soon.
As inflation from sources like supply chain snags has cooled, policymakers and influential economic commentators have dedicated a larger share of their discussions to concerns about a labor market that in their view is “overheated,” or too strong for the overall good.
In his most recent news conference, Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, emphasized that the central bank was focused on bringing all dimensions of the economy, including the job market, into “better alignment” in an effort to slow price increases.
“We do see a very, very strong labor market, one where we haven’t seen much softening, where job growth is very high, where wages are very high, vacancies are quite elevated, and, really, there’s an imbalance in the labor market between supply and demand,” he said. “So that part of it, which is the biggest part, is likely to take a substantial period to get down.”