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12/03/2021

Is the Labor Shortage Permanent?

New Chamber of Commerce survey suggests structural change
Gina Acosta
Editor-in-Chief
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Is the Labor Shortage Permanent?
According to the Chamber, there are 10.4 million unfilled jobs and 7.6 million unemployed Americans, many of whom lost jobs amid the pandemic and have not returned to work. 

New research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that food retailers might not see their hiring struggles structurally improve anytime soon.

According to a poll of unemployed people conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in November, fewer than half of U.S. workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and remain unemployed are actively and consistently looking for work. Nearly two-thirds of workers don't expect to have secured a new job before the new year, and 8% have elected for an early retirement, saying that they don't intend to go back to work at all.

According to the Chamber, there are 10.4 million unfilled jobs and 7.6 million unemployed Americans, many of whom lost jobs amid the pandemic and have not returned to work. 

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • More than half (53%) of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic say they are only somewhat active, or not very active at all, in looking for work.  
  • More than one in 10 (13%) have left multiple jobs during the pandemic. 
  • Among those currently unemployed who have held multiple jobs since April 2020, 57% held their most recent position for three months or less. 
  • Almost half said they have been using pandemic incentives or stimulus payments, or tapping into savings and investments, to get by. 
  • A third (32%) want and expect to switch industries. 
  • A hiring bonus of $1,000 remains the top incentive most apt to bring unemployed workers back. 

The federal government, however, did report some good news on Dec. 3 for food retailers and suppliers looking for workers.

The federal government says 600,000 people joined the workforce in November, resulting in a labor-force participation rate increase to 61.8%, the highest level since March 2020. The unemployment rate fell to 4.2%.

The Chamber of Commerce poll of 529 Americans who lost jobs during the pandemic and have not returned to full-time employment was taken Nov. 2-9. The poll has an overall survey margin of error +/-4.3% at the 95% confidence level, with respondents over the age of 65 excluded from the study. 

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