As the number of new daily coronavirus infections continues to drop lower and lower, it is time for America to return to work. Consider:
- Some 80% to 85% of American adults are now immune to the virus. More than 64% have received at least one vaccine dose and, of those who haven’t, roughly half have natural immunity from prior infection. With more than 8 in 10 adults protected from either contracting or transmitting the virus, it can’t readily propagate by jumping around in the population. In other words, we have achieved herd immunity!
- The danger in underestimating or disregarding the protection provided by this “natural immunity” is that it will delay the full reopening of the economy and prolong the state of fear that has many people still wearing masks even when there is no reason to do so.
- At the same time, job openings hit a record of 9.3 million at the end of April. Especially high are new job postings in construction, production and manufacturing, loading and stocking, but even food preparation and service as well as hospitality and tourism are showing big rebounds.
- The federal unemployment bonus of $300 per week was a bad idea to begin with. Now it is encouraging too many workers to delay going back to work. It should be ended as soon as possible.
- The current inflation rate is now 5%, up from 4.2% in April. The severe worker shortage is damaging our booming economy by increasing inflation faster than necessary.
- Workers are gaining more leverage over employers all the time. This shift builds on changes already underway in the tight labor market preceding the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was 4% or lower for two straight years.
- The demographic picture is not becoming any more favorable for employers. Population growth for Americans between ages 20 and 64 turned negative last year for the first time in the nation’s history.
- Higher wages are already on the way. The most recent jobs report showed that average hourly earnings for non-managerial workers were 1.3% higher in May than two months earlier.
Conclusion. The U.S. has been very fortunate to have effective vaccines for Covid-19 developed so quickly. We have now achieved herd immunity and are largely able to resume our pre-pandemic normal lives. The huge number of current job openings, with rising wages, means that there are excellent career opportunities for millions of Americans who are willing to take the initiative to search them out.