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What's wrong with America's workers? Employers tell us

Rick Newman
Senior Columnist

The biggest economic problem of the next few years might not be unemployment or wage stagnation or asset bubbles, but something that seemed unimaginable not long ago: a shortage of workers.

With many companies saying they can’t find people to fill all the jobs they have open, Yahoo Finance has launched an ongoing series of stories on labor shortages that could become acute by 2019 or 2020. As part of this effort, we conducted an online survey Jan. 29-30, asking workers and business owners their views on the topic.

[Read the companion story: The Great American Labor Shortage is coming]

Nearly half of all respondents think labor shortages exist. Among business owners and managers, 51% see labor shortages. Among workers, the portion is 37%. Here’s the view overall, among both groups, combined:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

Workers and owners agree on one thing: Workers don’t have enough training. Here’s why owners and managers say companies can’t find enough employees:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

And here’s how workers answer the same question:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

Not surprisingly, owners and managers say they’re doing more to lure employees than workers seem to think. Here’s what owners and managers say:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey Jan. 29-30

And here’s what workers say on the same question:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

Nearly one-fifth of companies acknowledge they can’t or won’t pay enough to attract the workers they need:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey Jan. 29-30

And despite everything you might hear about automation, technology, robots and artificial intelligence, a large majority of employers say people are irreplaceable:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, January 29-30

Overall, a majority of both groups told us the economy is strong. Here are the responses for both groups combined:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

But the bosses are doing better. Here’s how owners and managers told us they’re doing personally:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

And here’s how workers are doing personally:

Source: Yahoo Finance survey conducted online via SurveyMonkey, Jan. 29-30

Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com. Encrypted communication available.

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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman

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