In response to what it calls a “national economic emergency,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new program to help America’s employers fill jobs.
A new initiative —America Works—launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation aims to mobilize industries and the government to rapidly address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis with actionable solutions.
“This is Operation Warp Speed for Jobs,” said Suzanne Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a press release. “We’re helping our members address the worker shortage by bringing the full strength of the Chamber’s advocacy muscle to this urgent crisis, expanding the Chamber Foundation’s most successful workforce programs, and mobilizing our nationwide federation of association and chamber partners to drive solutions that make America more competitive.”
According to new surveys and federal data analysis published by the U.S. Chamber, there are now half as many available workers for every open job across the country as there have been on average over the past 20 years. Several states and industries—particularly in hard-hit sectors like education, health services, and business services—are reporting that there are fewer job seekers than the total number of jobs open.
In addition, 83 percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are finding it more difficult to fill jobs than they were five years ago, and local chambers of commerce are twice as likely to say that a lack of workers is holding back the economy as they are to say that the pandemic is holding it back.
The shortage of workers is not a new problem, however. In October 2019, there were more open jobs than unemployed individuals, according to the Chamber.
“The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day. American businesses of every size, across every industry, in every state are reporting unprecedented challenges filling open jobs,” Clark said. “The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence.”
The policy arm of America Works is advocating for federal and state policy changes that will help train more Americans for in-demand jobs, double the cap on employment-based immigrant visas, and expand access to childcare for working parents.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation is also increasing workforce and job training programs led by employers to help more businesses prepare workers with the skill sets they need for the current and future job market. For example, the foundation is expanding its Talent Pipeline Management program and launching new efforts to connect employers to undiscovered talent.
“Together, we can and we must address our nation’s workforce challenges. When you lead the world in talent, you lead the world in solutions,” Clark said. “With a highly skilled workforce, there’s nothing business cannot achieve and nothing we as a nation cannot do.”