Worker shortage ‘biggest issue’ facing US economy this summer, Chamber of Commerce warns

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A worker shortage plaguing businesses across the country poses the biggest threat to the economy’s still-nascent recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published Tuesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Labor Department reported this week that the U.S. had a little more than 9.2 million vacant job openings in May, a record-shattering number despite the 9.3 million unemployed Americans. For comparison’s sake, before the pandemic shut down broad swaths of the nation’s economy, there were roughly 7 million available jobs.

The Chamber estimated there are about 1.2 available workers per job opening; before the crisis, the ratio was hovering around 1.

Although the ratios are close in range, there are key differences between now and before the pandemic: Previously, the major issue was that available workers didn’t necessarily have the skills to fill those openings; now, however, there are other factors at play.

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Number of workers unemployed for more than a year jumps by 248,000

  • The number of workers unemployed for at least a year increased by 248,000 in June, to 2.9 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • That represents about 29% of all unemployed workers.
  • Around two dozen states have ended federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.

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