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Chamber of Commerce: Worker shortage crisis deepening

The worker shortage crisis in the U.S. has continued to worsen in the past months according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber stated in its reports that in March there were a record 8.1 million vacant jobs in the U.S., showing an increase of 600,000 positions from February. However, the number of available workers per job, 1.4 workers per job, has become half of what the national average has been for the past 20 years and the ratio continues to fall, according to the Chamber. 

The business group notes that in some industries, there are fewer available workers than the number of vacant jobs, such as education, health services and government jobs.

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“More than 90 percent of state and local chambers of commerce say worker shortages are holding back their economies, and more than 90 percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are struggling to find qualified workers for open jobs,” the Chamber wrote.

"The worker shortage is real — and it’s getting worse by the day,” Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark said in the report.

According to a Chamber survey conducted in May, 90 percent of local and state chambers of commerce blamed the worker shortage for slowing down the economy in their area and 67.3 percent said businesses were finding it "very difficult" to find and hire workers.

The organization also pointed to an underwhelming April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in which 266,000 jobs were created when analysts had expected more than 1 million.

“Even with 9.7 million unemployed at the beginning of April, workers’ reluctance to return to work and fill open positions was one reason for the lackluster job creation,” the USCC wrote. “Another could be that employees know just how easy it is to get a new job — the percent voluntarily leaving their current job is now above pre-pandemic levels.”

According to the Chamber, the states with the lowest worker availability ratio are South Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont, with all three states having a ratio of less than 1.