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The Pandemic Highlights the Irony of Desires

What I learned during the Covid-19 pandemic: Be careful what you wish for!

Q2 2020
Earlier this year, pre-Covid 19 and amidst a crazy travel schedule, I wished to spend more time with my family. In February, unfortunately, the reality of life and work would not allow for that margin. Fast forward to the first week in May, and seven weeks of lock-down, and I’ve had more time with my kids and husband than I ever imagined possible! It is both a blessing (and a curse) all wrapped up in one!

In 2019, and still in early 2020, when we were looking for locations with a good pipeline of eligible skilled employees, and when communities would boast that they had really low unemployment levels (at all-time lows of less than 3 percent in some jurisdictions), we jokingly wished that we could find communities with a qualified/skilled workforce and unemployment rates of 5+ percent. Fast forward three months into the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, and economists predict by the summer the U.S. will have jobless rates near historic highs of 20 percent.

With so many people unemployed, one may presume that employers could choose from the pick of the litter; however, in this unprecedented scenario, the future job market remains unclear. How many employees will return to their original jobs as their unemployment resulted from the mandated stay-at-home orders? How many job-seekers will be eligible to be hired? Will they have the required skillsets necessary for open manufacturing positions? Will they be able to pass drug tests?

[Prior to the pandemic] we jokingly wished that we could find communities with a qualified/skilled workforce and unemployment rates of 5+ percent. The Covid-19 pandemic public health emergency has created new and dynamic challenges on a myriad of levels. Facing tremendous unemployment and a looming recession, companies wonder how jurisdictions impacted by the shutdowns will prepare future job-seekers in a time of social distancing. Perhaps communities could start preparing the unemployed workforce by targeting them for additional remote skillset training? Can recently laid off hospitality and retail employees retool their customer service for other industries? How can jurisdictions help address the pain points of companies, such as overbill payables, and rent or mortgage expenses, as local economies slowly and safely reopen? Perhaps this is an opportunity to want to make wishes a reality; those jurisdictions finding solutions to these questions may have a leg-up on the competition moving forward. Only time will tell.

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