The US Chamber of Commerce is launching a new plan to address the ‘crisis’ labor shortage, which it says is holding back the economic recovery from the pandemic.
The House on Tuesday unveiled its “America Works” program to mobilize government and industry resources to increase the number of qualified job seekers across the country.
“This is Operation Warp Speed for jobs,” Suzanne Clark, the Chamber’s chairman and CEO, told IPS axios. “While we are on the cusp of what could be a major American resurgence, a labor shortage is holding back job creation across the country.”
The Chamber says there are now just 1.4 employees available for each new opening, down from 4 in 2012, when a huge wave of millennials hit the workforce, and half the average of 2.8 over the past 20 years.
The Chamber says there are now only 1.4 workers available for each new opening
In May, the Chamber surveyed state leaders and local chambers of commerce about the workforce challenges in their area, with 90% citing lack of workers as the biggest challenge.
The workforce shortage is mind-boggling as some 8 million Americans are less unemployed after their jobs were eliminated during the pandemic, suggesting many may have stopped working.
Republicans have blamed federal unemployment benefits as being overly lavish, saying workers have little incentive to look for work.
Most Republican governors are now rejecting the additional $300 monthly federal supplement to state unemployment aid.
Others blame the pandemic’s massive workforce disruption, pointing out that many Americans moved or tried to switch industries during the chaos.
According to the Chamber, the staff shortage is greatest in the public sector, including public education, with only 0.16 workers per opening.
Private schools and health services are also hard hit, with an availability ratio of just 0.88, while professional and business services also have fewer workers available than there are jobs, the chamber said.
Most Republican governors are now rejecting the additional $300 monthly federal supplement to state unemployment aid, saying it encourages potential workers not to seek work
A man walks into a restaurant with a ‘Now Hiring’ sign in New Hampshire in March
Geographically, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Vermont are the states with the greatest labor shortages, and all three have fewer job seekers than job openings.
“The staff shortage is real — and it’s getting worse by the day,” Clark said in a statement.
In May, the Chamber surveyed leaders of state and local chambers of commerce about the labor challenges in their area, and 90 percent reported “lack of available labor” as the main factor slowing the economy in their area.
Two-thirds said it was “very difficult” for employers in their community or state to hire workers. Less than 1 percent said it was easy to fill open positions.
The Chamber also surveyed economists from some of the country’s top trade associations, and 76 percent of respondents reported that companies in their industry find it “difficult” (52 percent) or “very difficult” (24 percent) to hire employees right now. to employ.
When asked how companies in their industry are doing now in finding employees compared to five years ago, an overwhelming 83 percent of respondents said it was “harder” or “significantly harder” to hire.
Two-thirds of local chambers of conventions reported that it was “very difficult” for employers in their community or state to hire workers
The Chamber also surveyed economists at some of the country’s top trade associations
A vast majority of trade groups said hiring is more difficult now than it was five years ago
To address the staff shortage, the US House is proposing a series of training programs and immigration reforms.
An important proposal, strongly supported by the House, would grant amnesty to more than a million farm workers who are illegally present in the country.
The House also calls on Congress to grant citizenship to millions of so-called “dreamers” who entered the country illegally as children.
Other proposals include more investment in employer-led staff training programs and calls to create more recruiting programs for military veterans and ex-convicts.
Federal data shows that in March 2021, the last month for which data is available, there were a record 8.1 million job openings in the United States, more than 600,000 more than in February.
So far, employers have added 1.4 million new jobs in 2021, but data shows that there are about 8 million fewer people in work today than when the pandemic started.
“The workforce shortage is a national economic emergency and an immediate threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great revival,” Clark told Axios.
The Chamber’s partners in the new America Works program include Google, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.