The Washington Post ran an article telling readers that employers are finding it difficult to attract qualified workers. As the piece says:
"Firms that save money from the tax cuts may simply be unable to find more workers to hire at the price they are willing to pay."
This is really the core of the problem. There is apparently a huge skills gap among employers at firms across the country. They don't seem to understand basic market principles. If they want to hire more workers, then they have to offer higher wages.
There are always workers out there. They may work for a competitor or live in another city, but for a high enough wage they will change jobs or move. According to the Post piece, many employers don't seem to understand this basic fact, leaving them unable to get the workers they say they need.
The Post piece suggests this problem is widespread. It notes manufacturing and trucking as areas facing serious labor shortages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in manufacturing has risen by just 1.6 percent over the last year. That is slightly less than inflation over this period. The average hourly wage has risen by 4.4 percent in trucking over the last year, but this increase comes after a rise of just 1.0 percent in 2016 and a modest decline in 2015. If competent employers were facing a labor shortage, wages would be rising far more rapidly.
It is also worth noting that these labor shortage pieces are 180 degrees at odds with the "robots taking our jobs" story. That is a story of a labor glut. It is incredible that we often see these stories of labor shortages and labor glut running side by side. It would be like having an article warning of bone-chilling cold right next to an article talking about a record heat wave. In principle, one or the other can be the case, but both cannot be true at the same time.