We need to fix work, not workers. I believe the inability of employers to fill job openings in 2021 is no labor shortage but rather an indictment of the low-quality jobs that tens of millions of Americans have languished in for years. The pandemic has exposed business models that undervalue and underpay workers, often subjecting them to dangerous conditions — now and before Covid-19.

Evidence of employee and jobseeker dissatisfaction emerge in recent federal jobs reports. Some have noted that recent numbers show factors such as health concerns are keeping workers at home rather than enhanced employment benefits. Though the October jobs report showed an encouraging uptick in hiring after September’s abysmal numbers, we need to consider what factors on the worker-supply side are affecting dynamics in a sluggish labor market.

A shift in labor market dynamics is not surprising, considering widening gaps over the decades between employers and workers, supply and demand. This includes reductions in benefits and flexibility, a sense among workers that employers simply don’t value them and pay disparities — the Economic Policy Institute estimates that compensation has grown 1,322% for CEOs since 1978 but just 18% for the typical worker.

The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed California workers last year, finding that just over half of those making less than $80,000 have growth opportunities at work, and about one-third say they cannot voice concerns at work or won’t see those concerns taken seriously. In the same survey, 78% of Californians said it’s important for workers to organize, but only 29% have that opportunity at work. Meanwhile, workers in sectors across the country are striking, with more potentially on the horizon.

Read the full article about the quality jobs shortage by Don Howard at Forbes.