Businesses don't have enough workers, so they're forced to pay more.
Morally, socially and in many business-wise aspects, that's good. Too many people have been underpaid for too long.
But look at what happens.
New Hire Joan starts at $17 an hour. That means the four employees making less than Joan likely are going to have their pay raised to or above Joan's. The higher-wage hit for Joan is minor compared to the more significant impact of being fair to the other four, all of whom might very easily quit if they found out what Joan is making (hint: They would).
To make up at least some of the new payroll hit, the employer raises prices, which are passed along to the consumers, who already are scrambling to keep up with skyrocketing housing costs and higher prices across the board.
Where does it end? Hell, I have no idea, but I do know this much: This crazy "new normal" isn't just affecting some of us. It's affecting all of us.
I encourage you to dive into this issue of The Business Journal of North Idaho, but in particular suggest you take a few minutes to read the column from Hayden Chamber of Commerce boss Andrea Fulks.
Andrea hits the bull's-eye in encouraging all of us to be patient with the dour consequences of the labor shortage. Her advice to be extra kind and to acknowledge excellent service will go a long way in easing the pain of this jarring roller-coaster ride.
With a smile, we might even get through the ridiculous traffic and smoke-filled air.
— Mike Patrick, BJNI editor