2021 is officially over! It couldn’t have come soon enough in my opinion. I’m hoping that my labor and employment predictions for 2023 will be able to completely avoid COVID related predictions, but after the last two years I am not holding my breath. Let’s be honest though, 2023 will probably still have COVID issues even if the disease finally disappears in 2022. 

Rather than look forward though, I want to look back at mylabor and employment predictions for 2021

The Supreme Court Found the NCAA Violated Antitrust Law and Ended Special Access that Unions have to Agricultural Employees

I was right on both accounts in these Supreme Court cases. In National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston, the Supreme Court found, in a unanimous decision, that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) rules regarding education-related benefits violated Antitrust law. Critically, Justice Kavanaugh’s concurrence demonstrated that the NCAA’s prohibition on compensation may also violate the law. Kavanaugh decreed, “there are serious questions whether the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules can pass muster under ordinary rule of reason scrutiny.” 

In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, the conservative majority found that California’s regulation that granted labor unions a right to access an agricultural employer’s property is a physical taking and is unconstitutional as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from taking private property for public use without just compensation. 

Immigration Will Become Easier for Employment-Based Immigrants

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

There still has not been any progress on the bipartisan Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, which would eliminate country caps for immigrants applying for permanent residency (green cards). There is obviously still time for this or a similar bill to pass in this administration. This bill had members of both parties cosponsoring it. 

The Percentage Denial for Various Employment Visas Did Go Down.

The number of employment visa denials went down under the Biden administration. The National Foundation for American Policy found that “the denial rate for new H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2021 to drop to 4%, far lower than the denial rate of 24% in FY 2018, 21% in FY 2019 and 13% in FY 2020.”  This is a welcome change for companies that use foreign workers.

ICE Raids Are Over and There is No Indication that Notices of Inspection Increased.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo ending mass worksite enforcement actions (ICE raids) in October 2021. The memo calls for finding new enforcement strategies on the issue of unauthorized workers.

There is no indication that Notices of Inspection (I-9 reviews) have increased under Biden. The final numbers are not available at the time of this post, but due to COVID-19 and the change in the administration, it is unlikely that the numbers increased.

Pathway to Status and Citizenship Proposed

On his first day in office, Biden proposed a pathway to citizenship for most of the unauthorized persons in the US. There has not been progress on this yet, but President Biden intends to continue working on this issue.   

Remote Work Continued to Grow

The opportunity to work remotely and the willingness of companies to offer remote work likely grew in 2021. There were nearly four times as many jobs postings for remote positions in 2021 compared to 2020 in New York. Ladders, a jobsite for jobs paying more than $100,000, found that 18% of all professional jobs were remote and it expected around 25% of them to be remote in 2022. More employees are demanding remote work and that will only continue into 2022. 

COVID-19 Issues will Dominate 2021

I wish I was wrong about COVID-19 dominating 2021. The end of 2021 saw the rise of Omicron and the return to remote work for many workers, Truly, the end of 2021 fetl like 2020. It is literally Groundhog day. 

Vaccine Accommodations Still Are a Major Issue for Employers

Around 63% of the US population is fully vaccinated and at least 12% of the population has received at least one dose. 

Not only have so many people received the vaccine, there are also a number of important decisions regarding vaccine and accommodation requests. There have been numerous challenges to religious accommodation requests and a lot of ink has been spilled over how to accommodate employees that cannot or will not get the Covid vaccine. The recent cases before the Supreme Court regarding the issue has lessened the importance of this topic somewhat. But many employers are still moving forward with vaccine mandates even if they are not required to do so by the federal government. 

More Local Safety Rules Will Be Enacted

This is a prediction that came true as you can see from these two maps ( here and here) discussing some of the COVID rules by state. 

Moreover, as you can see from this article, there has also been an increase in OSHA inspections and complaints related to Covid. 

Some Form of COVID Regulations Will Persist When the Pandemic Ends

I did not think we would be back at the beginning (or at least what feels like the beginning) at the end of 2021, but it is too soon to tell whether this prediction it is true or false. The pandemic is not over as much as I, and everyone else, wishes it was. 

The Economy Will Grow in Importance

The economy is quickly becoming one of the most important topics as I predicted. It is likely to continue to be the most critical problem facing the country as nearly a third of the country believes that it is the most pressing problem facing the country. In addition, inflation has again become one of the most important problems anytime anyone goes to the grocery store or pays their rent. People are frustrated: the https://www.reddit.com/r/antiwork/ crowd, those upset with the stock market losses, and those that cannot find what they want in the supermarket. 

Unfortunately, as I wrote in my predictions article, things have gotten better, in some regards, and worse in a year. Prices are reaching new heights and inflation has increased 7% year-over-year. This is not that surprising considering that there has been a 40% increase in the money supply in the past 2 years. The number of unemployed has, however, decreased from 10.79 million in December 2020 to around 6.32 million in December 2021. But the number of people not in the labor force is approximately 700,000 persons higher than it was in February 2020; it is currently at 5.7 million. On the other side of the coin, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was little changed at 5.7 million. 

The economic situation does not appear to be getting better and the situation will likely be extremely volatile for a while. 

Mental Health Issues Will Continue to Grow

Mental health issues are not going away. In 2021, approximately 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, which is equivalent to 47 million Americans. In addition, 7.67% of adults reported substance abuse disorders in 2021. Approximately 10.7 million or 4.34% of adults experienced severe suicidal thoughts in 2021. These are just the statistics for adults. Children also experienced high rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. 

As always, if you or someone that you know is experiencing any of these issues, then it is important that you get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day. Life is tough but these services can provide hope and help to those that need it.  

Conclusion

2021 was quite a year for many workers and the workplace. Here’s to hoping that 2022 brings lots of hope for the end of the pandemic and improvements in society. Cheers!

The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, then you should speak with a lawyer about your specific issues. Every legal issue is unique. A lawyer can help you with your situation. Reading the blog, contacting me through the site, emailing me or commenting on a post does not create an attorney-client relationship between any reader and me.

The information provided is my own and does not reflect the opinion of my firm or anyone else.

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