It is largely accepted the COVID-19 virus will not be eradicated in the near future so we must adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. After a series of perhaps well- intended but hasty decisions, this struggle begins with two hands tied behind our back as we climb out of the economic hole our leaders dropped us in.
Here is what we are working with:
At the writing of this article, the Consumer Price Index has increased 6.8 percent over the last 12 months. Over the past year, fuel prices have experienced a 59.1-percent increase, energy prices are up 30 percent, and food prices have skyrocketed just under 12 percent since the same time last year.
What is more unsettling is the monthly increases have been consistently higher than projected with little signs of slowing down despite the federal government’s repeated attempts to reassure the public this is temporary. You might remember being told prices will calm down after the summer surge, but here we are wishing it only looked as bad as it did in June. If you can’t remember the last time we experienced this kind of increase, I can’t blame you, because it was 30 years ago! For your reference, that was around the time the film “Die Hard 2” was released and a year before the Soviet Union dissolved.
These inflation rates have a direct correlation to a 20-plus-months unemployment rate spike resulting in supply chain shortages. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much we did not know, and the knee- jerk reaction was to go on lockdown. In Pennsylvania, we may never receive transparency on the process used to decide which businesses were deemed too unsafe to continue and are left to speculate that, with a hand over his eyes, Governor Wolf made blind self-determinations.
Most of the manufacturers who were forced to stop operations, if given the chance, could have taken safety precautions to operate through COVID-19, just as those granted clemency to work did. Coming out of the pandemic, we are now experiencing high demand and a labor shortage a shadow of its 2019 record levels. The backlog of mandatory halted production requires a growing workforce to meet the demand necessary to climb out of this hole.
Unfortunately, the desire for a roaring economy is once again ignored for political wins. Most companies over the past 20 months have established safe health practices to include encouraging the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the Biden administration’s attempt at vaccine mandate for companies with 100-plus employees unfairly punish those attempting compliance. They are faced with losing a portion of their workforce at a time most are struggling to attract and retain employees or pay exorbitant fines topping out at $136,532.
No doubt our logistics and trucking industry will deserve our gratitude as they carry the weight of getting our economy humming again by filling the supply chain gaps. Unfortunately, The American Trucking Associations estimates the industry could lose up to 37 percent of its drivers should the vaccine mandate be implemented. This is the worse news we could have given the current driver shortage, now estimated at 80,000.
You may remember Sir Isaac Newton’s third law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It was not that long ago we were experiencing record growth and the lowest unemployment rates, but something changed. Hindsight is often 20/20, but it now seems clear our elected officials at the state and federal government largely overplayed their hand, their lust for control showed, and it is not a good look.