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December 6, 2021

Why Aren’t U.S. Workers Coming Back?

While the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent employment report indicated more workers, particularly women, are returning to the workforce after leaving or losing their jobs during the pandemic, a new survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) indicates millions of people will continue to sit on the sidelines of the job market.

Specifically, the survey found only 47 percent of Americans who lost their job during the pandemic and remain unemployed are actively and consistently looking for work and one in five report they are not looking for work at all. The USCC also found:

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of individuals who lost their jobs said they do not expect to be back working before the new year, and eight percent said they never plan to return to work.
  • Thirteen percent of people said they found new work, but have left multiple jobs during the pandemic.
  • Among those currently unemployed who have held multiple jobs since April 2020, 57 percent said they held their most recent position for three months or less.
  • One-third of those polled said they want to find work in a different industry.

How are these individuals supporting themselves? According to the USCC, almost half are using government pandemic incentives or stimulus payments, or tapping into savings and investments, to get by. And what is the most effective tool that employers have to lure these individuals back into the workforce? A hiring bonus of $1,000 remains the incentive most likely to bring unemployed workers back. A high percentage of would-be workers also said they want to find a job that offers a flexible schedule. Read the USCC’s full report here.

As noted above, there was some good news regarding workforce issues last week. On Friday, December 3, U.S. Department of Labor announced the labor-force participation rate, or the share of people who are working and looking for jobs, rose to its highest level since March 2020. Connecting the Dots will continue to report on the difficulties employers are having finding workers.

Stay tuned.