The anguish over staffing has been a constant in the last few years. But what happens if the economy gives us a new problem?

Granted, the upswing in enrollment at accounting schools that stemmed from the scandals that produced Sarbanes-Oxley hasn't yet reached the market. But who expected four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline and what impact will expensive fuel have on the job market?

There's already a shortage of summer jobs for teenagers, and purchases of software are getting shoved into the future by buyers who aren't sure what is going to happen. There's every reason to think that the problem of having too few qualified job candidates could turn into the opposite. The seller's market for jobs could be a buyer's market. That's really not a problem that anyone really wants because it will imply that growth has slowed down.

The energy issue is probably already forcing companies that did not allow work-at-home to either consider it or to enlarge programs. In the rural parts of the country, employees spend a lot of money going to work and returning home, and they will be more productive if they don't have to anguish over stretching dollars to cover fuel and other necessities. Certainly, one good thing about the modern era is the Internet, which gives more workers more options to avoid hitting the roads.

It's unlikely that the demand for workers is going to slacken off immediately. But the outlook certainly could change as sky-high gas prices persist, and the predictions are that four-dollar-plus gasoline will be with us at least through 2009. Business has to start considering the impact of these economic issues, not just on the immediate fuel and utility bills, but on the resume supply.

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