CNBC Forecast Fail: Labor Shortages Expected In 2018

Daniel Drew,  6/1/2015


Every now and then, it's good to look back at some of the dumber things CNBC has said to see how badly they missed the mark. In March 2010, they quoted a report by Encore that said there would be a labor shortage in 2018. Encore forecasted a shortage of 5 million workers. Meanwhile, in reality, 93 million Americans are not in the work force, the labor force participation rate of college graduates is on a relentless decline, and McDonald's turns away 93.8% of its job applicants. That sure seems like quite the "labor shortage."

How could someone produce a report so obviously off target? Even the BLS themselves aren't this bad. One does not have to look very far into the report to realize what's going on. On the first page, it says, "Made Possible By MetLife Foundation." The second major point of the report is that the labor shortage could provide an opportunity for workers aged 55 and above to fill the gap.

This entire report is essentially a marketing tool to promote senior involvement in the labor force. As a life insurance provider, MetLife needs its insured clients to live through their expected life spans so they can keep paying monthly premiums to the company. The more seniors who are working, the more they will stay active and possibly live longer. So MetLife sponsored a report about a fake labor shortage to drum up enthusiasm among the senior population. Leave it to CNBC to rely on a corporate-backed report permeated with conflicts of interest.

While they were certainly wrong about the labor shortage, they were right about seniors elbowing their way through the labor force, knocking out the next generation in the process.