This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 31, 2000

Expect a Wait at the Polls

58 Days until January 1, 2001

The shrinking pool of available workers is taking its toll. Employers of every kind are struggling to find and hold enough competent workers to get the job done. They're going after every population group they can find to fill positions. There are more people working part-time, sharing jobs, and working creative schedules than ever before.

The impact of this vacuum in the labor market is that there are substantially fewer people available to work in transient, on-call, and occasional-work jobs. The Unite States Census Bureau faced this challenge earlier this year as they scrambled to recruit pollsters in a very tight labor market. Schools needing substitute teachers have a much-reduced supply of qualified instructors. Schools also have difficulty recruiting people to drive school buses--in the morning and afternoon and during the day for field trips.

Another occasional need for workers comes from the voting process. Election officials across the United States must recruit, hire, and train people to staff the polling places on election day. The pay is minimal, so this work is practically volunteer time contributed by civic-minded people. More complications: a decrease in the sense of civic responsibility and volunteerism. Where does this shift come from? Increasing demands for work that leave precious little time for such community involvement . . . or temporary jobs.

With the intensifying efforts to get out the vote, a lot of people will be going to the polls on November 7-even in those states that offer early voting this year. Expect a wait; bring something to read or a game to play. Expect irritation, as well. In today's rush-rush world, we become impatient quickly. You'll hear grumbling and lots of people who don't understand the widespread impacts of our labor shortage.

Another challenge: Boards of Elections are discovering that they'll have to hire another permanent staff member to recruit, train, and schedule poll workers. Each county in the country has a Board of Elections; imagine how many new positions may be created, to be filled from the same shallow labor pool. The problem compounds itself.

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