Profiles Of America In Full EmploymentWith the jobless rate at a near 50-year low, employers are struggling to fill open positions. An NPR series looks at the consequences and impacts of an economy at full employment.
Tanisha Cortez waits on a table at a restaurant in Ames, Iowa. When the previous restaurant she worked for closed, Cortez applied to others and had job offers right away. Jobs are plentiful in Ames, a small city of more than 65,000 residents tucked amid farm fields north of Des Moines.
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Courtney Hering, who is getting married next year, is planning a slightly more lavish wedding reception. After seven years at Kohler, she finally feels like she has found a professional home.
Sara Stathas for NPR
Sam Smith, Brittany Smith and their daughter Erelah outside their Charlotte home. The Smiths moved to Charlotte looking for change and opportunity. They are part of an influx of African Americans to Mecklenburg County, where the African American population has ballooned by 64% since 2000.
Swikar Patel for NPR
The Martinez family stands in front of their home in New Jersey. During a speech at her graduation, Alondra said to her parents: "Mamá, papá, lo logramos." Mom, dad, we made it.
Mohamed Sadek for NPR
The long economic recovery has brought unemployment to historic lows. But the number of men in the labor force during their prime working age has dropped significantly over the past 50 years.
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Gaby Gemetti decided to leave the workforce after having her second child. In March she started a "returnship," a new type of program to recruit and retrain women like her who are looking to resume their careers. Here, Gaby and John Gemetti are seen with their children, Carlo and Gianna.
Courtesy of Shannon Wight Photography
Hot Job Market Is Wooing Women Into Workforce Faster Than Men
A lot of Iowa business owners in towns like Mount Pleasant are facing chronic labor shortages. One solution is to encourage more outsiders to come to the state, including immigrants.
"I had one day I worked six hours and made $50. It really wasn't worth it. ... But it doesn't happen that often," says Hilary Gordon, who works as a shopper for the grocery delivery app Instacart in a suburb of Sacramento, Calif. "The other day I worked 11-and-a-half hours and made $265. Great? No. But good."
Teri Smith is one of over 130,000 workers who shop for and deliver groceries for Instacart. Smith, 46, has worked for Instacart in Arlington, Texas, since August 2018.
Allison V. Smith for NPR
Dani Izzie at her home in rural Virginia. More than a decade ago, she slipped in the bathroom and suffered a spinal cord injury that has left her unable to walk. She works as a social media manager for Spinergy, a company that makes high-performance wheels for wheelchairs.
Greg Kahn for NPR