Britain Prepared for a Jobs Crisis, Just Not the One It Got

Empty beer taps in pubs, supermarkets low on Diet Coke, milkshakes missing at McDonald’s: It seems each new day in Britain brings a new notice of scarce products and services as businesses are waylaid by the country’s shortage of truck drivers and other workers, the New York Times reported. The problem extends beyond the most visible parts of the economy. Job vacancies in Britain are about 20 percent higher than their prepandemic levels, and the need for workers has gripped nearly every occupation, including computer programmers, health care assistants and farmworkers. Yet Britain also has nearly a quarter of a million more people unemployed and looking for work than before the pandemic. And that’s not counting the roughly one million people still furloughed — either not working or working part time while getting wage subsidies from the government. Many are likely to lose their jobs when the program ends this month. The labor market, in short, is in a logjam: Employers have positions they need to fill, and plenty of people are looking for work, but the empty positions don’t match what people are prepared for or want to do. In Britain, analysts say that the mismatches won’t be resolved easily. With the economic recovery already losing momentum, this additional constraint risks slowing it down even further. “We’ve got more vacancies than we have candidates,” said Niki Turner-Harding, the senior vice president for Adecco UK & Ireland, a recruitment agency that primarily fills clerical, customer service and administrative positions, as well as logistics and warehouse roles. The reasons for the conundrum? “The delayed impact of Brexit, the pandemic and furlough,” which have combined to hollow out staff availability, she said. Read more.