Axios Blames ‘Angry’ Customers for Labor Shortage, Gets Clock Cleaned by The Wall Street Journal

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Conservative political writers tend to pay attention to “the competition” — particularly liberal sites with which we have zero in common. One such site is Axios, a relative newcomer that in its five years of existence has become one of the liberal media’s favorite go-to sites. I speak only for myself, here: I’ve always viewed the site as a bit snobbish — including Jonathan Swan its main TV personality, who shall remain nameless.

This report provides a perfect example.

In a snobbish piece titled “Unruly customers threaten economic recovery,” the site’s ridiculous explanation for the Biden Labor Shortage Crisis™ is that “increasingly violent and combative customers,” angry about “long wait times and mask mandates,” are to blame for causing workers to quit, en masse, dragging down a very shaky recovery that depends in large part on employees returning to work, post-COVID crisis — not leaving their jobs in droves.

So how ridiculous was the Axios piece? The Wall Street Journal, while not in response to Axios, begs to differ. Let’s first look at a few excerpts from the Axios piece:

The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.

Many workers say they’re simply not willing to put up with the abuse any longer — and their employers are often taking their side, even in industries that have long deferred to their customers. Businesses have shut down in support of their employees.

Some industries have provided self-defense classes and banded together on public awareness campaigns.

This trend of increasingly unpleasant, sometimes violent customers is changing the balance of power within the industry.

If consumer behavior doesn’t improve, more workers may leave, putting the workers who stay at more risk of abuse and placing even greater challenges on businesses to operate.

Yep. “If it wasn’t for all those damn customers, we could run a successful business, here!”, Axios appears to believe. As I suggested, The Wall Street Journal disagrees. In an op-ed titled “Where Did All the Workers Go?,” the editorial board argued that Bidenomics has led to the labor shortage that is hurting the economy.

The WSJ began by citing recent statistics from the Labor Department:

The Labor Department on Friday reported another disappointing month for employment, but the problem wasn’t a dearth of jobs. The question is whatever happened to the workers?

Employers added a mere 194,000 jobs in September, the second negative monthly surprise in a row. While the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.8% from 5.2%, that’s because 183,000 Americans dropped out of the workforce. Labor force participation fell 0.1 percentage point to 61.6% and has barely moved since 61.4% a year ago even as the economy has grown rapidly.

The Journal then drilled down on pandemic-lockdown-affected jobs.

There are still five million fewer Americans employed than before the pandemic lockdowns, and three million of them have left the workforce. Even the White House didn’t try to sugar-coat the numbers. It blamed the lousy report on Covid’s Delta variant, which probably contributed to the dearth of new jobs in food and accommodation.

But the number of Americans unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic dropped 600,000 from August. Covid cases declined by a third in September, and many industries unaffected by the virus also failed to add workers.

We’ve all seen the “Help Wanted” signs.

Employers are desperate for workers but can’t find sufficient numbers of employees even they are willing to pay more. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, as noted by the WSJ, 67 percent of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire in September, and 42 percent raised compensation. But a record 51 percent still have openings they can’t fill.

So what’s causing the shortage? Angry, unruly customers, as Axios hilariously argued, or Bidenomics, as argued by the Wall Street Journal? Tough choice, right? Yeah, I’m going with The Journal:

One possible culprit is government and employer vaccine mandates that set ultimatums for workers. President Biden’s vaccine order first applied to nursing homes, which lost jobs in the month.

Many states and school districts have also imposed mandates, and state and local education employment fell 161,000. The White House claims its vaccine mandates will boost job growth, but not if unvaccinated workers quit.

And perhaps Biden and the Democrats “paying” — redistributing taxpayer money — unemployed workers enough that many would rather sit home and collect the cash vs. look for jobs?

Democrats have also made quitting an easier economic option. Pandemic enhanced unemployment benefits ended in early September, but that was only one week before Labor’s monthly jobless survey ended. Next month might provide better data on that score.

But there are still many other federal financial payments that don’t require work, including a $300 monthly allowance per child, food stamps and rental assistance. Many people have saved some of their transfer payments, and now Democrats are promising more.

Shocked? Me, neither. Here’s the thing. While massive wealth redistribution, the Democrats’ “fair share” nonsense, and ever-growing so-called “entitlement” programs have been the keystone of Democrat policy for six decades, the real objective of the Democrat Party is power. The more unbridled, the better.

The Democrat Party has long known that pandering to various demographics — all the while exploiting the ever-loving hell out said demographics — keeps those demographic voters dutifully showing up at the voting booth, and overwhelmingly voting Democrat, no questions asked nor failures challenged.

The Democrats have also become masters (by various definitions) at convincing Democrat voters: “While we might not have delivered everything we’ve promised, think how worse off you’d be if you didn’t have us to protect you from the evil Republicans.” Hence, as playwright George Bernard Shaw correctly observed, “The government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

Here are few more points made by the WSJ that fly in the face of the silly Axios piece:

  • Inflation may also be tilting the scale to leisure instead of work. Average hourly earnings are rising fast—up 4.6% from a year ago and 7.4% at an annualized rate.
  • The lack of workers has clearly become a drag on the economy, slowing production and contributing to supply-side strains. Ships are backed up at ports in part because there aren’t workers to unload and transport them to where they need to go.
  • The White House and Fed have deployed the Keynesian policy mix of government spending and easy monetary policy to boost demand.
  • Meanwhile, they’ve squeezed the supply side with incentives not to work, restrictive mandates, and the promise of more regulation and higher taxes.
  • Now Democrats want to add another $5 trillion in spending and taxes that will do more of the same. Workers and the economy will be far better off if this legislation dies.

Meanwhile, here’s how Axios ended its “blame the consumer” article:

Workers’ fears would likely abate if more Americans get vaccinated and the risk of getting infected on the job declines. That would also allow businesses and local governments to ease up on mask mandates that workers are often tasked with enforcing.

Bad Americans, too!

“The bottom line,” Axios declared, is: “The customer is no longer always right.”

Perhaps Axios should look in the mirror.