- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will lead an initiative aimed at both industries and the government to address a "deepening worker shortage crisis," according to a June 1 announcement.
- Through the initiative, named America Works, the Chamber says it will push for policy changes at the federal and state levels to remove barriers to work, including increasing the number of visas available for immigrants, improving federal investment in job training programs and expanding access to affordable childcare. It will also work to scale employer-side solutions, including its own training programs.
- In tandem with the announcement, the Chamber also revealed a new report showing the tough state of the current job market; according to the report, half as many workers are available for each job opening (1.4 workers per opening) as there has been on average for the past 20 years — about 2.8 workers per opening.
While employment has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, meaning many remain without work, employers continue to have real trouble finding workers, research has shown. Forty-four percent of organizations surveyed in April by the National Federation of Independent Businesses said they had job openings they were unable to fill. And this shortage is happening while employers post record numbers of job openings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"The worker shortage is real — and it's getting worse by the day," Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark said in a statement. "American businesses of every size, across every industry, in every state are reporting unprecedented challenges filling open jobs. The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America's great resurgence."
The question of why this disconnect is happening looms large in the minds of employers. Prolonged unemployment may have, in part, kept some workers from key development opportunities for in-demand skills, experts previously told HR Dive.
In response, employers are retooling workforce development programs, a necessary move in the wake of the pandemic, Jay Titus, vice president, workforce solutions group, at University of Phoenix, previously wrote for HR Dive. Credentialing programs and learn-on-the-go programs have attracted attention of late to meet these needs — as have state partnerships with private companies, a focus of the Chamber's work.