Southbound - Summer 2021

If big buffalo deals are an indicator, 2022 is expected to be huge.

By Michael Randle, EDITOR

One of Southern Business & Development’s favorite reads on and here in the print product is our “Top 10 Deals” for the quarter. You can find those on the next to last page of this issue.

As you can see, in the summer 2021 quarter, every single top 10 deal topped 1,300 jobs or more. I have been putting that page together for 30 years, and I can tell you that is rare. In the summer quarter, the top job deals were two giant Ford Motor deals in Tennessee and Kentucky, both of 5,000 jobs or more. Next up were two 3,000 job deals. Again, these huge job deals are rare.

The spring quarter’s top 10 deals didn’t all create 1,000 jobs or more. However, the spring saw Oracle announce 8,500 jobs in a massive new project in Nashville and Apple announce 3,000 jobs in the Research Triangle in North Carolina. And like every quarter for several years now, the spring of this year saw Amazon announce another fulfillment center of 1,000 jobs.

So, we hear that small businesses — really any business — can’t find labor. Some businesses have had manager level positions unfilled for more than a year. It’s curious that it seems tougher now to find workers than it did before the pandemic when the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. As of August, almost 9 million Americans were out of work and that does not count those that have stopped looking for jobs. So, on paper there’s plenty of labor available.

What’s going on? Well, we know of one impediment; there are 7.5 million people taking care of their children at home because of school and childcare facility closures. This pandemic brings to light the problems and the cost of child care. Many lower wage workers spend up to 60 percent of their pay on child care. Free child care is what we need to get this economy going. Imagine what 7 million new jobs could do for this economy.

So, what about these major projects of 8,500, 5,000, 3,000 and 2,000 jobs when labor is scarce in just two quarters? These are some of the largest job announcements in the region over the last three decades.

Are these big deals a sign that when COVID is nearly eradicated in the next year the executives of these companies believe the economy will grow quickly and those caring for children at home will hit the job market? Most large projects take about a year to start. If the future is encouraging, the timing is perfect for the large deals announced in the spring and summer of this year.

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