September 16, 2019

Is Lack Of Workers Holding Back U.S. Job Creation?

New data and analysis suggest that companies are having an increasingly hard time finding workers, and that this problem might be affecting economic and employment growth. The U.S. government announced last week that there were 7.2 million jobs open in the United States in July 2019. Additionally, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, federal government data show there was barely one available worker for every job opening in America in July and the National Association of Manufacturers) has found more than 520,000 jobs are unfilled in the manufacturing industry.

Finally, as the Washington, D.C.-based news outlet Axios explained, “Job openings have exceeded the number of unemployed workers for 17 consecutive months – a dynamic never before seen since the government began tracking the data.” The dynamic is beginning to affect other economic data, said former Federal Reserve economist Ed Yardeni. Yardeni explained to Axios that the weakness in the August jobs report (the United States created only 113,000 new jobs last month) had more to do with “a shortage of workers rather than weakening demand for them.”

Earlier this summer, Axios reported that the worker shortage is affecting certain regions and certain industries, especially manufacturing and construction, harder than others.

Small businesses also seem to be especially worried. In a poll by the National Federation of Independent Business, the number of small business owners who said finding qualified workers was their single most important problem hit a 46-year high in July.

As a reminder, to build a strong workforce, MSCI supports:

  • Streamlining federal job training programs and accurately assess industry and labor market trends to better train workers to meet employer and market demands;
  • Supporting the vocational education, apprenticeships, job training and certification programs that will teach workers the skills they will need to fill the jobs of the 21st century;
  • Requiring a well-rounded, quality K–12 education system;
  • Limiting burdensome labor and employment regulations; and
  • Passing commonsense immigration reforms that ensure access to both low- and high-skilled workers.

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