Worker shortages are fueling America’s biggest labor crises

The U.S. economy came within hours of shutting down because of a standoff between unions and railroad carriers over sick pay and scheduling, highlighting just how

dramatically staffing shortages have reshaped American workplaces and driven exhausted workers to push back. With more than 11 million job openings and only 6 million

unemployed workers, employers have struggled for more than a year to hire enough people to fill their ranks. That mismatch has left employees frustrated and burnt out, and is

fueling a new round of power struggles on the job. While the railway dispute, which the White House helped resolve early Thursday morning, has garnered the most

attention, a number of other strikes are spreading across the United States. Some 15,000 nurses walked out of the job in Minnesota this week, and health care workers in Michigan

and Oregon have recently authorized to strike. Seattle teachers called off a week-long strike, delaying the start of the school year. At the center of each of these

challenges are widespread labor shortages that have caused deteriorating working conditions. Staffing shortfalls in key industries, such as health care, hospitality and education,

have put unprecedented pressure on millions of workers, igniting a wave of labor disputes as well as new efforts to organize nationwide. Everything you need to know about the

averted rail strike Too may industries are still struggling to find workers. The share of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one is at 62.4 percent, a

full percentage point lower than it was in February 2020, according to Labor Department data.