Rev. Mark H. Creech
The vanishing workforce: Unraveling mysteries behind so many ‘help wanted’ signs
By Rev. Mark H. Creech
September 1, 2023

Garnering considerable media attention were last year’s remarks by John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods. Mackey criticized the younger generations, suggesting they didn’t seem to want to work. He argued they weren’t motivated to work because they prioritize meaningful work. However, he also stated they needed to earn meaningful work over time. Mackey’s comments reflected the different work ethics held by older and younger generations.

Soon I will be 66 years old and I’ve never seen so many “Help Wanted” signs in front of businesses. We’re living in a time when a substantial fraction of our nation’s dedicated workforce seems to have vanished.

The global COVID-19 pandemic certainly disrupted the labor market, causing a shortage of workers. As businesses have tried to bounce back, they’ve had a hard time finding enough employees to meet demand. This increased demand for workers is seen across the industries of hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and transportation, among others. Establishments are offering incentives, bonuses, and increased wages to attract workers. But to place all of the blame on COVID seems to be a shallow way of looking at the problem.

Recently, I came across an excellent article written by the editor-in-chief of Tomorrow’s World, Gerald E. Weston. Weston’s editorial was titled, Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Weston quoted data from a 2016 report by the Brookings Institution that was issued long before COVID. The report said, “The share of prime-age men [25-54] who are working or looking for work has been falling for half a century.”

Weston added, “This is far from being an exclusively American problem. Canada, Australia, Britain, and Germany have similar worker shortages. In France, riots are spawned over attempts by the government to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 to alleviate the government’s burden of pensions. Even in China, attitudes are changing. This June 2022 NPR headline sums it up: ‘Hard work is a point of pride in China. But a culture of slacking off is now in vogue.’”

Many factors could be cited for the worker shortage: skill gaps, economic conditions, immigration policies, education, socioeconomic trends, technological advances, globalization, demographic changes, etc.

However, Weston cited something much deeper – the ascendancy of belief in the theory of evolution. He wrote:

    “Belief in the theory of evolution has deceived mankind into thinking there is no existential purpose for humanity – and has left us adrift in virtually every realm of life. But we are not a product of chance. God created us with a purpose. He created us to be productive…Too many have forgotten that there is reward in work, no matter how humble…God created mankind to work, and when we choose not to work – out of laziness rather than genuine medical necessity – we invite negative consequences.”

Another factor contributing to a smaller workforce, at least here in America, has been the practice of abortion. Thank God for the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. The egregious abortion decision by the High Court in 1973 has been responsible for the destruction of more than 60 million lives. Roe v. Wade is now gone and many states are tightening abortion restrictions. However, the heinous practice continues and must be stopped.

Abortion has resulted in lower birth rates, which have led to a smaller pool of potential workers entering the labor force. Reproductive choice has left us with an aging population that has created a shortage in industries that heavily rely on younger employees.

The Joint Economic Committee Republicans, chaired by ranking member, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), issued a report in June of 2022, that succinctly addressed the issue, saying:

    “In the long run, abortion shrinks the labor force, stunts innovation, and limits economic growth. It also weakens the solvency of social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare that rely on workers to support a growing elderly population.”

Still, one other dynamic rarely mentioned is having a “creeping effect” on diminishing our country’s work ethic. I’m referring to the exponential growth of gambling in America.

Historically, only a few states had legal gambling options, such as Nevada and New Jersey. However, an increasing number of states have now approved various forms of gambling, including casinos, racetracks, and state lotteries.

The rise of online gambling has played a crucial role in gambling’s rapid spread. Moreover, a cultural shift towards normalizing gaming has also contributed to its widespread acceptance. Sports betting, for instance, has gained immense popularity, and the lifting of federal restrictions on sports wagering by the Supreme Court in 2018 further propelled its progression.

There are a significant number of young people who are now engaging in gambling. The availability of online gaming platforms and widespread marketing efforts targeting youth and young adults have contributed to its popularity among this demographic. Additionally, the rise of e-sports betting and mobile gambling apps has made gaming more accessible and appealing to youth.

Why should we be concerned? I suggest it ought to be seen as a big deal because of what we are passing down to our children.

Back in the 1990s, at a national meeting of the Christian Coalition, Senator Richard Lugar explained:

    “The spread of gambling is a measure of the moral erosion taking place in our country…It says that if you play enough, you can hit the jackpot and be freed from the discipline of self-support through a job or the long commitment of ongoing education….We cannot tolerate the ‘get rich quick’ symbolism of gambling while pleading with our children to avoid other ‘tosses of the dice’ that lead to unhealthy living and destructive behavior.”

As Americans embrace the philosophy of gambling more, they will appreciate the privilege of working less.

In his classic work, Seducing America, Rex Rogers provided an insightful and thought-provoking statement on the relationship between gambling and work. He wrote:

    “God says, ‘A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.’

    “There is no better definition for chasing fantasies than gambling. Gambling encourages people not to work and to throw their money away on blind wishes. By gambling, people attempt to avoid God’s principle, ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food’ (Genesis 3:19)….Gambling masquerades as surrogate work. It undermines work, rationality, and responsibility. But work is both a command and a gift of God (Exod. 20:9; Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:6-12; I Tim. 5:8).”

Indeed, this world is not a place of boundless random processes, which is what evolution is about. The conception of a human being is divinely ordered, which is what abortion denies. Life is not directed by luck and chance, which is what gambling is about.

No. A Sovereign God is in full control, ever working to bring about his perfect will. And, he commands us to work, dedicating our labors and actions to him, acknowledging him as our ultimate employer, and seeking to bring him glory in everything we do (I Cor. 10:31).

Happy Labor Day!

© Rev. Mark H. Creech


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Rev. Mark H. Creech

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.

Rev. Creech is a prolific speaker and writer, and has served as a radio commentator for Christians In Action, a daily program featuring Rev. Creech's commentary on social issues from a Christian worldview.

In addition to, his weekly editorials are featured on the Christian Action League website and Agape Press, a national Christian newswire.


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