The United States had 5.5 million job openings in January 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means employers could not find the right people to hire. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 2.3 million computer-related professionals and engineers will be needed by 2022 to meet the demand of the economy and to replace the retiring workforce. There will be a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers by the end of 2015 and Boeing projects more than 550,000 new commercial airline pilots will be needed over the next two decades, or about 28,000 per year. That places the skilled and talented labor force in the driver’s seat to ask for higher compensation, which bodes well for the lower and middle class.
Much of this employment gap can be attributed to jobs that require science, technical, and vocational skills to perform newly-created digital jobs. This skill gap is a reflection of disconnection between institutions of higher education and the employers that need to fill those openings, as discussed in Chapter Fourteen.
Companies in Silicon Valley are clamoring for prospective employees by enticing them with perks. At Facebook, employees can pick anything from vending machines (snacks, drinks, computer accessories), are provided three meals a day five days a week, have an onsite barbershop, dry cleaners, and bikes, all at no cost. Not to be outdone, LinkedIn offered unlimited vacation and seventeen paid holidays to its employees starting in November 2015. The discretionary time off (DTO) model allows employees to work with their managers to plan vacation time with no limit to the number of days. In 2015, Amazon started offering twenty weeks of paid time-off for new moms while Netflix offered as much as one year paid leave for new parents. All of these perks are offered without government’s interference or mandates. This shows the power of competition for talents and what a growing economy can do for the middle class.
When middle-class Americans feel secure in their jobs, they can plan on buying new clothes for their kids, a computer, a car, etc. It will then results in demands for additional products, at which point businesses jump in and build the production capacity to sell those products. The net outcome is additional jobs and more economic stability for workers.