As we move closer to a complete reopening of the American economy in the wake of decreasing COVID -19 infections and increasing citizens being fully vaccinated, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) information is getting much more play in news cycles – and for a bunch of not-so-encouraging reasons. First off, the labor shortage appears to be getting worse with some 8.1 million job openings – the highest total since the year 2000 – being reported for March. BLS’ monthly Job Opening and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) for March also confirmed the ongoing labor shortage as there was a 2 million job gap – the highest ever recorded – between job openings and hires (6 million). At the same time, inflation accelerated at its fastest pace in more than 12 years in April with energy prices jumping significantly as well as housing costs. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 4.2% from a year ago while the estimates had projected the CPI would rise by 3.6%. For the month alone (April over March) the gain was 0.8% against a projection of just 0.2%. And finally, trying to put a shine on that sneaker, the Department of Labor reported yesterday that U.S. new unemployment claims dropped to a new pandemic law of 473,000 this week – down from a revised total of 507,000 last week and a pandemic peak of 900,000 in January. And this all comes with the White House and Congress strategizing on how to spend as much as an additional $4 trillion in new programs!