by Gary Alexander

November 16, 2021

“Lazy Bones, Sleepin’ in the Sun….
How you ‘spect to get your day’s work done?”

–A 1933 song by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael

In my other life, I’m a music historian with 20 years on the radio spinning disks and tales and attending nightly seminars on “The Great American Songbook.” This week, my radio show, as always, this time of year, is dedicated to two homespun song stylists, Johnny Mercer (born November 18, 1909, in Savannah, Georgia) and Hoagy Carmichael, born a decade earlier (November 22, 1899) in Bloomington, Indiana.

Appropriate for their birthdays, the first song they wrote together was called “Thanksgiving” (1932), but the next year they wrote their first big hit together, called “Lazy Bones.” One of the finest early recordings was by the Mills Brothers in 1934. They created a full orchestra with their voices alone.

Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, and The Mills Brothers Images

Lazy Bones was Johnny Mercer’s first hit, but Hoagy had several earlier hits, including two other “lazy” songs, “Rockin’ Chair” (1929) and “(Up a) Lazy River” (1931), so laziness was his winning formula; but when “Thanksgiving” and “Lazy Bones” came out, it would seem that America had little to be thankful for – and America’s workers were decidedly not lazy. The unemployment rate hit 25% in 1932; another 25% were either part-time or severely under-employed, and laborers worked long hours for little pay. A couple of 1937 songs hit that nail on the head – the Gershwins’ “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and “Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go,” from Walt Disney’s first feature length cartoon film, “Snow White.”

Today’s workers have a panorama of choices, compared to the 1933 narrow array of newspaper want ads. Last month, I wrote here about the record 4.27 million QUITS in August. Now, that record is broken yet again (Wall Street Journal, “Record Quitting Fuels Tight Job Market,” November 12, 2021), as there were 4.43 million Americans quitting their jobs in September, along with a new high of 11.2 million job openings as of November 5, 2021, vs. 7.4 million unemployed workers not willing to take those jobs.

Today’s employers can’t seem to get workers in the door. According to the Wall Street Journal last week (“Help Really Wanted: Firms Ease Hiring,” November 8, 2021), many employers have dropped college education requirements, don’t fret your grade point average, and will hire you within 10 minutes if you can smile and pass a drug test. Incentives are gaining favor, even for temporary workers. For instance, Amazon wants to hire 150,000 seasonal workers starting at $18 per hour, with sign-up bonuses of up to $3,000, and United Parcel Service (UPS) is offering current employees $200 for every job applicant they recruit, provided the rookie survives the holiday rush. But sadly, many don’t want to work, can’t or won’t show up regularly on time or in condition to serve customers well, or can’t pass the drug test: Lazy bones.

If you’re like me and dozens of friends I’ve heard from, restaurants and stores all across America are boarded up because they can’t find enough help. Most of those stores have desperate “Help Wanted” signs on their doors. Many restaurants have only drive-through or call-in service, but no seated service.

The civilian working-age Labor Force Participation Rate peaked at over 67% around the year 2000 and declined until 2016, but you’ll notice a slight rise during the three non-COVID Trump years of 2017 to 2019. Then, like most economic statistics, this rate fell off a cliff in 2020 – and has not recovered yet.

(Both charts, below, are courtesy of Yardeni Research, November 8, 2021)

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

As a result, we have seen over 10 million job openings going begging since at least last June. The pre-pandemic peak in job openings was 7.5 million in November 2018. It’s 11.2 million now, so we have nearly four million more job openings – and people to fill them – yet few want to apply for them. The current dilemma is that many of those openings are in retail businesses gearing up for the holiday season.

Economist Ed Yardeni and his team have determined that the average lower-wage worker has almost doubled the wage growth rate (+5.8% through October) of the average higher-wage worker (+3.1%), even though the higher-wage worker still earns almost double ($51.70 per hour, or over $100,000 year year) of the lower-wage worker ($26.30 per hour, or about $55,000 per year for a 40-hour week). However, that 5.8% wage gain barely matches inflation growth in recent months, so real purchasing power is a “wash.”

Average Hourly Earnings Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Maybe COVID gave millions of workers a chance to reset their priorities at home and decide to stay there. If each of us looks around at friends and family, perhaps we will see many examples of people changing priorities – of adult children returning to their parents’ home, not as deadbeats but helping their aging parents and working light jobs as needed to keep their parents at home instead of in an institution.

Ed Yardeni concludes, somewhat sadly, I’d say:

“The labor shortage is not transitory. It’s not even persistent. It’s permanent for the foreseeable future! More and more businesses are realizing this and responding by increasing their capital spending, particularly on technology, to boost the manual and mental productivity of the available labor force.”

If so, we need immigrants now, more than ever. We need people willing to work the way our elders were willing to work during the Great Depression and in the robust growth decades following World War II.

I’d like to close on a more pleasant note:

One of my favorite versions of “Lazy Bones” is by New Orleans musicians Harry Connick, Jr. and Johnny Adams, whom I saw when I was a DJ there at WWOZ in the 1980s. They have some friendly byplay here.

All content above represents the opinion of Gary Alexander of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

Please see important disclosures below.


Marketmail Survey #11 is now closed.

Also In This Issue

Global Mail by Ivan Martchev
Mind the Bond Market

Sector Spotlight by Jason Bodner
10 Reasons to Hug a Bear

View Full Archive
Read Past Issues Here

About The Author

Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has been Senior Writer at Navellier since 2009.  He edits Navellier’s weekly Marketmail and writes a weekly Growth Mail column, in which he uses market history to support the case for growth stocks.  For the previous 20 years before joining Navellier, he was Senior Executive Editor at InvestorPlace Media (formerly Phillips Publishing), where he worked with several leading investment analysts, including Louis Navellier (since 1997), helping launch Louis Navellier’s Blue Chip Growth and Global Growth newsletters.

Prior to that, Gary edited Wealth Magazine and Gold Newsletter and wrote various investment research reports for Jefferson Financial in New Orleans in the 1980s.  He began his financial newsletter career with KCI Communications in 1980, where he served as consulting editor for Personal Finance newsletter while serving as general manager of KCI’s Alexandria House book division.  Before that, he covered the economics beat for news magazines. All content of “Growth Mail” represents the opinion of Gary Alexander

Important Disclosures:

Although information in these reports has been obtained from and is based upon sources that Navellier believes to be reliable, Navellier does not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute Navellier’s judgment as of the date the report was created and are subject to change without notice. These reports are for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation for the purchase or sale of a security. Any decision to purchase securities mentioned in these reports must take into account existing public information on such securities or any registered prospectus.To the extent permitted by law, neither Navellier & Associates, Inc., nor any of its affiliates, agents, or service providers assumes any liability or responsibility nor owes any duty of care for any consequences of any person acting or refraining to act in reliance on the information contained in this communication or for any decision based on it.

Past performance is no indication of future results. Investment in securities involves significant risk and has the potential for partial or complete loss of funds invested. It should not be assumed that any securities recommendations made by Navellier. in the future will be profitable or equal the performance of securities made in this report. Dividend payments are not guaranteed. The amount of a dividend payment, if any, can vary over time and issuers may reduce dividends paid on securities in the event of a recession or adverse event affecting a specific industry or issuer.

None of the stock information, data, and company information presented herein constitutes a recommendation by Navellier or a solicitation to buy or sell any securities. Any specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. The holdings identified do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients and the reader should not assume that investments in the securities identified and discussed were or will be profitable.

Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. Individual stocks presented may not be suitable for every investor. Investment in securities involves significant risk and has the potential for partial or complete loss of funds invested. Investment in fixed income securities has the potential for the investment return and principal value of an investment to fluctuate so that an investor’s holdings, when redeemed, may be worth less than their original cost.

One cannot invest directly in an index. Index is unmanaged and index performance does not reflect deduction of fees, expenses, or taxes. Presentation of Index data does not reflect a belief by Navellier that any stock index constitutes an investment alternative to any Navellier equity strategy or is necessarily comparable to such strategies. Among the most important differences between the Indices and Navellier strategies are that the Navellier equity strategies may (1) incur material management fees, (2) concentrate its investments in relatively few stocks, industries, or sectors, (3) have significantly greater trading activity and related costs, and (4) be significantly more or less volatile than the Indices.

ETF Risk: We may invest in exchange traded funds (“ETFs”) and some of our investment strategies are generally fully invested in ETFs. Like traditional mutual funds, ETFs charge asset-based fees, but they generally do not charge initial sales charges or redemption fees and investors typically pay only customary brokerage fees to buy and sell ETF shares. The fees and costs charged by ETFs held in client accounts will not be deducted from the compensation the client pays Navellier. ETF prices can fluctuate up or down, and a client account could lose money investing in an ETF if the prices of the securities owned by the ETF go down. ETFs are subject to additional risks:

  • ETF shares may trade above or below their net asset value;
  • An active trading market for an ETF’s shares may not develop or be maintained;
  • The value of an ETF may be more volatile than the underlying portfolio of securities the ETF is designed to track;
  • The cost of owning shares of the ETF may exceed those a client would incur by directly investing in the underlying securities; and
  • Trading of an ETF’s shares may be halted if the listing exchange’s officials deem it appropriate, the shares are delisted from the exchange, or the activation of market-wide “circuit breakers” (which are tied to large decreases in stock prices) halts stock trading generally.

Grader Disclosures: Investment in equity strategies involves substantial risk and has the potential for partial or complete loss of funds invested. The sample portfolio and any accompanying charts are for informational purposes only and are not to be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument and should not be relied upon as the sole factor in an investment making decision. As a matter of normal and important disclosures to you, as a potential investor, please consider the following: The performance presented is not based on any actual securities trading, portfolio, or accounts, and the reported performance of the A, B, C, D, and F portfolios (collectively the “model portfolios”) should be considered mere “paper” or pro forma performance results based on Navellier’s research.

Investors evaluating any of Navellier & Associates, Inc.’s, (or its affiliates’) Investment Products must not use any information presented here, including the performance figures of the model portfolios, in their evaluation of any Navellier Investment Products. Navellier Investment Products include the firm’s mutual funds and managed accounts. The model portfolios, charts, and other information presented do not represent actual funded trades and are not actual funded portfolios. There are material differences between Navellier Investment Products’ portfolios and the model portfolios, research, and performance figures presented here. The model portfolios and the research results (1) may contain stocks or ETFs that are illiquid and difficult to trade; (2) may contain stock or ETF holdings materially different from actual funded Navellier Investment Product portfolios; (3) include the reinvestment of all dividends and other earnings, estimated trading costs, commissions, or management fees; and, (4) may not reflect prices obtained in an actual funded Navellier Investment Product portfolio. For these and other reasons, the reported performances of model portfolios do not reflect the performance results of Navellier’s actually funded and traded Investment Products. In most cases, Navellier’s Investment Products have materially lower performance results than the performances of the model portfolios presented.

This report contains statements that are, or may be considered to be, forward-looking statements. All statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs or expectations, are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of The U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by such forward-looking terminology as “expect,” “estimate,” “plan,” “intend,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “continue,” “project,” or similar statements or variations of such terms. Our forward-looking statements are based on a series of expectations, assumptions, and projections, are not guarantees of future results or performance, and involve substantial risks and uncertainty as described in Form ADV Part 2A of our filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is available at or by requesting a copy by emailing All of our forward-looking statements are as of the date of this report only. We can give no assurance that such expectations or forward-looking statements will prove to be correct. Actual results may differ materially. You are urged to carefully consider all such factors.

FEDERAL TAX ADVICE DISCLAIMER: As required by U.S. Treasury Regulations, you are informed that, to the extent this presentation includes any federal tax advice, the presentation is not written by Navellier to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties. Navellier does not advise on any income tax requirements or issues. Use of any information presented by Navellier is for general information only and does not represent tax advice either express or implied. You are encouraged to seek professional tax advice for income tax questions and assistance.

IMPORTANT NEWSLETTER DISCLOSURE:The hypothetical performance results for investment newsletters that are authored or edited by Louis Navellier, including Louis Navellier’s Growth Investor, Louis Navellier’s Breakthrough Stocks, Louis Navellier’s Accelerated Profits, and Louis Navellier’s Platinum Club, are not based on any actual securities trading, portfolio, or accounts, and the newsletters’ reported hypothetical performances should be considered mere “paper” or proforma hypothetical performance results and are not actual performance of real world trades.  Navellier & Associates, Inc. does not have any relation to or affiliation with the owner of these newsletters. There are material differences between Navellier Investment Products’ portfolios and the InvestorPlace Media, LLC newsletter portfolios authored by Louis Navellier. The InvestorPlace Media, LLC newsletters contain hypothetical performance that do not include transaction costs, advisory fees, or other fees a client might incur if actual investments and trades were being made by an investor. As a result, newsletter performance should not be used to evaluate Navellier Investment services which are separate and different from the newsletters. The owner of the newsletters is InvestorPlace Media, LLC and any questions concerning the newsletters, including any newsletter advertising or hypothetical Newsletter performance claims, (which are calculated solely by Investor Place Media and not Navellier) should be referred to InvestorPlace Media, LLC at (800) 718-8289.

Please note that Navellier & Associates and the Navellier Private Client Group are managed completely independent of the newsletters owned and published by InvestorPlace Media, LLC and written and edited by Louis Navellier, and investment performance of the newsletters should in no way be considered indicative of potential future investment performance for any Navellier & Associates separately managed account portfolio. Potential investors should consult with their financial advisor before investing in any Navellier Investment Product.

Navellier claims compliance with Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS). To receive a complete list and descriptions of Navellier’s composites and/or a presentation that adheres to the GIPS standards, please contact Navellier or click here. It should not be assumed that any securities recommendations made by Navellier & Associates, Inc. in the future will be profitable or equal the performance of securities made in this report.

FactSet Disclosure: Navellier does not independently calculate the statistical information included in the attached report. The calculation and the information are provided by FactSet, a company not related to Navellier. Although information contained in the report has been obtained from FactSet and is based on sources Navellier believes to be reliable, Navellier does not guarantee its accuracy, and it may be incomplete or condensed. The report and the related FactSet sourced information are provided on an “as is” basis. The user assumes the entire risk of any use made of this information. Investors should consider the report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. The report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of a security. FactSet sourced information is the exclusive property of FactSet. Without prior written permission of FactSet, this information may not be reproduced, disseminated or used to create any financial products. All indices are unmanaged and performance of the indices include reinvestment of dividends and interest income, unless otherwise noted, are not illustrative of any particular investment and an investment cannot be made in any index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.