NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Maintaining Standards Despite A Labor Shortage

February 17, 1999

Some employers are willing to hire any warm body that comes through the door, so tight is the U.S. labor market. But others are leaving a critically important job unfilled for perhaps months at a time, rather than lower their personnel standards. In fact, some employers are even raising their standards.

Why are they following such a strategy, which may entail assigning more responsibilities to existing workers, paying overtime or hiring temporaries?

  • Employers say trying to train an unqualified worker simply takes too much time.
  • In the manufacturing sector, ill-prepared employees are responsible for more scrap, lowered productivity, eroded quality and sagging morale among qualified employees.
  • Those factors result in higher production costs and perhaps greater employee turnover.
  • High-risk hires require more supervision -- resulting in lost productivity.

This trend does not bode well for job applicants who are trying to exit welfare rolls. Some employers report that they are refusing even to interview some applicants who appear to them to be potential problems.

George Daniels, president of Daniels Manufacturing Corp., an Orlando, Fla., manufacturer of aircraft-industry parts, says he worries that there's "a higher-than-normal percentage of potentially litigious applicants in the labor pool right now."

Source: Robert Johnson, "Some Employers Lift Hiring Standards Amid Labor Shortage, Weak Applicants," Wall Street Journal, February 17, 1999.


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