"This is super tight": Companies struggle to find, retain workers in a hot economy

“I’ve been in this business since 1984, and I’ve never seen what we’re dealing with in terms of hiring people,” said Sandlin, president of the Jacksonville, Fla., trucking firm. “Driver pay is going to have to continue to go up, and our customers are going to have to pay for it.”

This is what full employment looks like. A decade after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the United States suddenly finds itself at a place where almost everyone who wants a job can find one. The unemployment rate in December was 4.1 percent, leaving employers struggling to attract and retain good workers and raising the prospect of higher wages as the United States approaches congressional elections in November.

“Employees today have lots of options in all corners of industry, whether you’re in fast food or retail or investment banking,” said Art Mazor, a principal at Deloitte Consulting. “This feels super tight.”