A pandemic-tightened labor market has given willing and able workers more of an upper hand with their employers for the first time in generations. While workers are trying to take advantage of this rare moment of opportunity, economists are less convinced.

Worker power is the ability of an employee to command higher wages and benefits and set terms about their working conditions. Since the 1950s, worker power has generally been on the decline as the power of corporations and shareholders grew and union strength fell.

But now the nation has the most job openings it has ever had since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking data in December 2000. There were 10.1 million job openings recorded at the end of June. That means that for every available 100 jobs, there are only 94 unemployed people available.

“​​We think of worker power as basically where the balance of power lies in the employment relationship between the…

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