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By Tom McDonald
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Opinion: Good time to be looking for work


Last updated 8/31/2021 at 3:34pm

If you’re an American worker, there’s cause for a real celebration this Labor Day.

The economy is flush with jobs, wages are going up and employers are so desperate to find workers they’re offering benefits for what used to be starter jobs for teenagers.

If you’re looking for work, you’ve got plenty to pick from, unless your skill sets are stuck in the old economy. Technology has or is changing just about every job out there, so workers must adapt.

That’s easier for the younger generations who have grown up with their eyes fixated on computer screens. For older workers, maybe you’re like me, hanging on to what you know, adjusting to an ever-increasing online presence with your every chore, and hoping against hope that you won’t have to be “re-trained” before your retirement.

If the federal government starts throwing trillions of dollars into infrastructure, clean energy, and sundry social services, which it looks like they’re about to do, it’s going be even better for working Americans.

Gone are the days when you had to take what you could get; now you have more choice in how to earn your living.

A lot of people think this surplus of jobs is because of the extended unemployment checks the federal government doled out to those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. We’ll see soon enough if that’s true, as the federal extension of such benefits is ending right after Labor Day. Several states have already stopped the extended jobless benefits, and so far it hasn’t had as big an impact as you might think.

A bigger impact may come from inflation, a byproduct of pumping more money into the economy. The Federal Reserve can raise interest rates to offset inflation, so expect it in the not-so-distant future.

Despite the rise of the Delta variant, we appear to be well past the recessionary trends that COVID-19 brought — and it seems the pandemic gave workers a different perspective.

The federal minimum wage, which has been stagnant at $7.25 an hour for 12 years now, is a joke in our post-pandemic economy. Even the fast-food restaurants are offering about twice that now — they’re advertising $13- to $15-an-hour jobs here in New Mexico because that’s what it takes to get someone to flip burgers nowadays.

Plus benefits. Employers must now offer more than a good wage to attract workers. They need health care, personal paid time off, better and more comfortable working conditions, bonuses for good work, and what may be the most important ingredient of them all, on-the-job respect.

A good job isn’t just about the money. Workers often stick with jobs and people they like, even for less pay sometimes, because of the reward that comes with feeling good about what you do and who you’re working with.

Happy Labor Day, workers. Here’s hoping for many more, like this one, to come.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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