Paul Krugman writes that, when it comes to employment, workers are not going back to the pre-pandemic world:
After a year and a half of working from home, many don’t want to return to the stress of commuting. And at least some of those who were forced into unemployment have come to realize how unhappy they were with low pay and poor working conditions, and are reluctant to go back to their previous jobs.
You can also see it by looking at what’s happening in the sector hit hardest by the pandemic, leisure and hospitality (think restaurants and hotels). Employment in that sector is still well below its prepandemic level; but to bring workers back, the sector has had to offer big wage increases, significantly above the prepandemic trend.
In other words, some workers really don’t seem willing to go back to their old jobs unless offered substantially more money and/or better working conditions.
Conservatives are upset. They're predicting doom:
Conservatives insist that it is indeed a bad thing: Workers, they say, are refusing to take jobs because government aid is making unemployment too comfortable. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Remember, they said the same thing in the aftermath of the financial crisis, claiming that the unemployed were being coddled — when the actual reason recovery was slower than it should have been was the destructive fiscal austerity imposed by Republicans in Congress.
They simply don't understand what has happened:
If it wasn’t government benefits, what explains the reluctance of some workers to return to their old jobs? There may be several factors. Fear of the virus hasn’t gone away, and it may be keeping some workers home. Child care is also an issue, with many schools still closed and day care still disrupted.
My guess, however — and it’s just a guess, although some of the go-to experts here seem to have similar views — is that, as I suggested at the beginning of this article, the pandemic disruption of work was a learning experience. Many of those lucky enough to have been able to work from home realized how much they had hated commuting; some of those who had been working in leisure and hospitality realized, during their months of forced unemployment, how much they had hated their old jobs.
The pandemic has caused us to re-evaluate our priorities. And they are not the priorities that conservatives hold dear.