Asia’s Employment Crunch Could Make Life More Expensive Everywhere Else

Experts say the price of many products could soon begin to spike. Asia’s Employment Crunch Could Make Life More Expensive Everywhere Else Shutterstock

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Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, many other Western countries became increasingly dependent on imports from across Asia.

That status quo carried forward into this century, providing access to inexpensive goods while giving citizens of developing countries some much-needed job opportunities.

But aside from the disruptions caused by COVID-19, there’s another big threat facing Asia’s manufacturing industry … and it is poised to have a ripple effect around the world.

Looking for more

In Vietnam, where a host of cheap products are made in factories and exported to other nations, it has historically been fairly easy to find a new crop of workers. While it’s certainly not a glamorous environment and the pay is often incredibly low, people desperate for income have continued to fill job vacancies.

That appears to be changing as today’s 20-somethings in Vietnam reject factory jobs. Even efforts to make the workplaces more attractive (more windows, fully stocked cafes, yoga classes, etc.) haven’t seemed to help.

This generation is more interested in tech jobs, service-industry positions, or just about anything other than working in a factory.

It’s not just Vietnam

Paul Norriss, who co-founded one of the country’s garment factories, advised: “There’s nowhere left on the planet that’s going to be able to give you want you want. People are going to have to change their consumer habits, and so are brands.”

In addition to factory jobs falling out of favor, families across the continent are having fewer kids, resulting in a dearth of available labor.

So even as rampant inflation across the U.S. and beyond continues cooling down, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned that prices will remain on an upward trend as Asian nations struggle to produce the inexpensive goods to which we’ve become accustomed.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee August 9th, 2023
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