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Opinion
Adrian Wooldridge

America Is Facing a Great Talent Recession

If the U.S. is to stand up to a resurgent China, it needs to think as hard about finding top talent as it does about promoting equity.

More, please.

More, please.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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The latest monthly jobs report was much better than expected, but nonetheless finds employers across the U.S. still crying out in vain for workers. Goods are undelivered for want of truckers. Code is unwritten for want of coders. Hotel beds are unmade for want of bed makers, with both Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Marriott International Inc. dispensing with automatic daily housekeeping at their nonluxury properties. Even the Internal Revenue Service’s struggle to have enough people to deal with taxes on time is bordering on the apocalyptic. 

The obvious reason for all of this, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic, supercharged by the omicron strain. Yet in many ways the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the workforce, whether through workers calling in sick or choosing to drop out, merely highlights problems that were already in place or at least on the horizon. What has been eagerly dubbed the Great Resignation has hastened a demographic squeeze that was the inevitable consequence of the retirement of the baby boomers and the decline in the birthrate.