Archived Opinion

Real data about the job market

To the Editor:

The letter by Ms. Subic “Stop the checks, get to work” in the July 14 issue of The Smoky Mountain News starkly illustrates the importance of an informed citizenry in a robust democracy. Although rambling — and including apparently self-bemusing racial comments — apparently her intent was to argue that unemployment benefits, particularly the $300 supplement, were a key factor in firms’ current challenges in filling vacant positions.

The facts actually show a much more complicated situation. For instance, the data show that 6 million more Baby Boomers in the U.S. retired from October 2020 to March 2021 than in the same period in the previous year. These retirements sharply reduced the workforce. Perhaps Ms. Subic wants your retired grandma to get a job.

Also, Moody Analytics examined four sets of data: weekly unemployment claims, Google mobility data, job search trends, and small business payrolls. The results showed that there had been no meaningful change in the job market since some states blocked the $300 supplemental jobless benefits. Although some people are out of the job market because of unemployment benefits, a Morning Consult survey indicated that these people only constitute about 13 percent of those unemployed. This number is comparable to the results recently reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. 

Childcare obligations (and the cost and limited availability of external childcare), fears of COVID in the workplace, health limitations, and “lousy work options” largely instead explain why many are not currently in the job market. Contrary to Ms. Subic’s claim, there are many reports of firms reconsidering their human resource management policies in order to attract and retain employees. That’s what successful businesses do; they adapt to address market conditions.

Ultimately, as recent situations show, meeting the nation’s challenges requires thoughtful consideration of facts, not the thoughtless recitation of partisan talking points, nor opinions based on assumptions, biases or conspiracies. Our responsibility as citizens is to be informed. This includes consideration of a workplace that is being altered by demographics and the economics of COVID-19. 

Speaking of economics, Ms. Subic, exactly what “taxes are going up?”

Wayne Stewart, Ph.D. 


Leave a comment


  • Excellent rebuttal to a misinformed letter writer. Thank you for bringing some sanity to the discussion.

    posted by Buffy Queen

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Excellent rebuttal to a misinformed letter writer. Thank you for bringing some sanity to the discussion.

    posted by Buffy Queen

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Thank you for taking the time to look at the nuanced issues of employment. The job numbers for June in Jackson county had us at 4.2% unemployment. According to the federal labor department 4% is full employment. What this says to me is that people are unwilling to have multiple low wage jobs anymore. Yes we have a staffing shortage for these jobs but without affordable housing where do we expect these low wage workers to live so that you can have a cheeseburger at rock bottom prices?

    posted by Danielle Duffy

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Well I think you have attacked an American citizen on her letter. I was reading your answering her letter which I didn’t think writing in a comment requires a defense comment from SMN. Listening to the news as I look at your news the State and Nation are reporting billions of unemployment dollars paid out wrongfully. I did not write down exact numbers but the State reports big big money paid out where it was not suppose to go. So of course news of WGHP Fox 8 in High point NC report State will be recouping money that filed for was fake or not eligible to have it. All these billions paid out will be taxed to these recipients.

    posted by Theresa Hawn

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Hey Wayne Stewart, Ph.D.... you mention the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. San Francisco, a once great city now run by Liberals and awash in urine and human excrement. Well that tells me right away you are misguided and a fool. Let me say this, you may have a Ph.D assigned to your name but in my book it doesn't mean anything. You are still stupid.

    posted by Hal Stroham

    Sunday, 07/25/2021

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