Treat people 'kindly' and the labor crisis will improve: top economist
5th November 2021

If companies want to attract the talent they need to meet resurgent demand from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, they should consider treating workers better. And that doesn't necessarily mean offering them a few more dollars an hour, argues former Obama-era economy advisor Betsey Stevenson. 

"To solve the crisis, companies need to recognize that workers are people and they want you to treat them kindly. I think that's the real secret sauce," said Stevenson, now professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, on Yahoo Finance Live. 

Stevenson's comments come as the likes of John Deere and Kellogg battle striking workers demanding better employment conditions.

Meanwhile, the October jobs report — while better than analyst estimates — showed that companies continue to struggle to attract the right talent to meet their needs. 

U.S. employers added 531,000 jobs in October, ahead of analyst estimates for 450,000. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.6% from 4.7%. Average hourly earnings rose 4.9% year-over-year as companies from Amazon to Target continue to shell out more money for workers. 

Job growth for the past two months was also upwardly revised. 

The Labor Department said that September payrolls increased by 312,000, up from the lackluster 194,000 previously reported. And employers in August brought back 483,000 jobs, versus the 366,000 posted in the prior print.

"A factor that may help to draw more workers to help fill the abundant number of open jobs is higher wages," said Rick Rieder, BlackRock's chief investment officer of global fixed income. 

Higher wages and a realization by employers that jobs have changed during the pandemic, and more compassion toward workers are required.

"The job has undeniably gotten worse if you work in any kind of customer service role. People are rude. They are mean. You have to deal with telling them to put their masks on. They could actually physically assault you," explained Stevenson. "If you want to put people in those conditions, they're going to demand higher wages. And I think we're going to have to reckon with that."

Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick contributed to this story.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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