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Is America Running Out of Workers?

A Commentary By Stephen Moore

If you want one number that encapsulates the enormity of the economic turnaround under President Donald Trump, it is this: In America, as of the end of February, there were 7.1 million unfilled jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is larger than the entire population of the state of Indiana. That is how powerful and relentless the hiring spree has been under Trump policies.

Today, there are just over 6 million Americans who are "unemployed." This means that even if every person in America looking for a job took a job (and had the skills to fill them), we would still have more than 1 million jobs that would not be filled. That's the University of Michigan football stadium filled 10 times. That's a lot of jobs.

Add to that the latest Labor Department data reflecting the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits and it totals a glorious and irrefutable reality.

This is the best labor market for workers in 50 years.

Maybe ever.

This tight labor market is exactly what those of us on the Trump team hoped for when we designed the tax reform bill, deregulation policies and other policy changes designed to allow American businesses to grow and prosper. The competition for workers explains why average wages in America have risen by 3.2% over the last year, in an environment of little or no inflation. Add to that the potential for an average tax reduction of between $1,500 and $2,000 for the typical middle-class family and it is no wonder that 71% of workers feel good about the economic direction of the nation, a recent CNN poll found. Before the 2016 election, only about half that number of Americans rated the economy as good or great.

For the first time in a long time, Americans' real take-home pay is expanding. It feels good. People are spending because they have more money in their wallets and they are confident in their financial futures. What a change from the malaise of the last decade, when almost every poll showed that jobs and the economy were the biggest worry for Americans.

The tight labor market and boost in wages are inextricably linked. Target just announced a new minimum wage of $13 an hour. That wage is headed to $15 an hour in the next 18 months. Is this because of a government minimum wage law? No. The company said it had to pay more to recruit and retain the best workers. There is nothing more empowering for middle-class workers than having employers compete for their services.

Target isn't the only company handing out big raises in the Trump era. Walmart is up to $11 an hour, and Amazon just recently went to $15 an hour for all workers. Don't forget to add in bonuses, paid vacations and other enticements.

Even as businesses are investing more in capital equipment -- such as machinery, computers, robotics, trucks and forklifts -- they are hiring more workers at a brisk pace. Remember the worry that the internet and robots were going to destroy all our jobs and America would be one long unemployment line? It's not happening.

So now the worry is that America is running out of workers. Not really. As wages rise, more working-age Americans who aren't currently looking for jobs will snatch them up. There are several million Americans who could be in the labor force if the offer to get off the sidelines was enticing enough.

The irony of all this is that at the very moment the left wants to institute a "guaranteed livable income" for every American, Trump is doing that and more by making sure that every last American who wants one can get a job.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy." To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


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