U.S. Chamber declares WAR on labor shortage

Employers across America and in every industry are, by now, aware of the difficulty involved in finding quality workers to meet the economic recovery’s growing demand.

How bad are things, exactly?

A relatively obscure measure of employment prospects, known as the Worker Availability Ratio (WAR), puts a number on the challenges of hiring quality employees at the moment.

That number is 1.4.

The ratio, developed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a simple one. The number of job seekers is divided by the number of job openings. (The numbers are based on monthly statistics produced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 2012, coming out of the last recession, that ratio was around 4.0, meaning there were four workers available for every job that needed filling.

Over the last two decades, the average WAR has been 2.8. Now, the average across all industries is 1.4.

No wonder jobs creation in April, as reported by BLS, was an anemic 266,000. BLS had forecast 1 million. Employers weren’t creating many new jobs because they knew they couldn’t fill them. May figures, as we know, were considerably better, though again below expectations.

The pandemic, of course, prompted Congress to inflate unemployment payments to workers thrown out of their jobs – payouts that are now seen as the primary culprit of the current labor shortage.

The Chamber’s thinking on all this?

“Keeping our economy growing requires that we fill these jobs. To do so, we need to remove barriers that prevent people from entering the workforce, get individuals the skills they need for the open positions, and enact sensible immigration policy.”

A more balanced labor market could help “once again build a vibrant, prosperous nation and lead the world economy for years to come,” it said.

Amen, we say, amen.

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