The ‘Great Resignation’ increases pressure on employers to lure workers to Iowa, economist says

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The pandemic began with the loss of over nine million American jobs. For a number of reasons, recovering all those jobs has been more difficult than anyone expected. 

According to the U.S Labor Department, four million people quit their jobs in April alone. However, local economist, Peter Orazem, said it’s not a matter of people moving to the next gig, but rather retiring. 

“So you actually had an unusually small number of people retiring in the two years before 2020. With the pandemic suddenly it becomes a little bit easier to become unemployed,” Orazem. “And because they kept extending the unemployment benefits for longer periods you could remain unemployed and basically wait out the end of the pandemic without working.” 

According to a study done by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, about a third of the decline of people working in the U.S is due to retirements. 

Orazem said this is hitting states with a significantly older population the hardest. 

According to the U.S Census Bureau, over three million people lived in Iowa as of last year. Half a million of those individuals are 65 and older. 

Ozarem said with Iowa seeing less than a one percent increase in population growth each year, the state will have to turn to other measures to fill jobs. 

“If we have a reduction in our labor force, we’re going to have to fill it with migration. With a pandemic, immigration is not going to be a big source of new population,” Orazem said. “So I think you’re going to see a lot of upward pressure on wages in Iowa in order to get people to move to Iowa from other places.”

This week, the Iowa Workforce Development has kicked off a series of workforce roundtables to work collaboratively with Iowa businesses and assist them in putting Iowans back to work. 

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