The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a new plan to address the ‘crisis’ shortage of workers that is says it holding back economic recovery from the pandemic.
The Chamber on Tuesday unveiled its ‘America Works’ program to mobilize government and industry resources to boost the number of qualified job seekers across the country.
‘This is Operation Warp Speed for jobs,’ Suzanne Clark, the Chamber’s president and CEO, told Axios. ‘As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country.’
The Chamber says that there are now just 1.4 workers available for each new opening, down from 4 in 2012, as a huge wave of Millennials was hitting the workforce, and half the 2.8 average over the past 20 years.
The worker shortage is perplexing because some 8 million fewer Americans are still out of work after their jobs were eliminated in the pandemic, suggesting that many may have dropped out of the workforce.
Republicans have blamed federal supplements to unemployment benefits as overly lavish, saying workers have little incentive to seek work.
Most Republican governors are now rejecting the extra $300 monthly federal supplement to state unemployment aid.
Others blame mass workforce dislocation from the pandemic, pointing out that many Americans moved or sought to switch industries during the chaos.
According to the Chamber, the worker shortage is most dire in the government sector, including public education, with just 0.16 workers available per opening.
Private schools and health services are also hard-hit, with a worker availability ratio of just 0.88, while professional and business services also have fewer workers available than there are jobs, according to the Chamber.