US businesses face worker shortage as pandemic bites

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US businesses face worker shortage as pandemic bites

Salespeople, food servers, postal workers are proliferating across the US as companies struggle to deal with a worker shortage due to the pandemic, a rash of early retirements and restrictive immigration laws.

The government said more than 10 million openings went unfilled in June, while fewer than six million people were seeking work as employers try to boost their hiring efforts amid a frenzy of consumer spending.

The US Chamber of Commerce, representing American companies, said in a statement that they have a lot of jobs but not enough people to fill them.

Many who stopped working as COVID 19 first ravaged the US economy in early 2020 have never returned.

The Chamber calculated that there would be 3.4 million more workers today if labour force participation - the percentage of the working-age population currently employed or actively seeking work - was at the pre-pandemic rate. It has dropped from 63.4 per cent to 62.1 per cent.

Nick Bunker, a labour market specialist with jobs website Indeed, told AFP that part of the US population continues to age.

Since the pandemic hit, a huge cohort of baby boomers had already begun leaving the labour market, but there has been an increase in retirements, Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG, told AFP.

Millions of people chose early retirement because they were concerned for their health and with sufficient assets - thanks to a boom in the stock market and high real estate prices.

In the short term, Bunker said that we're unlikely to get back to pre-pandemic levels of labour-force participation because of the aging of the population. Swonk said that We haven't had immigration at the pace to replace the baby boomers. The number of foreigners entering the country was reduced because of restrictions imposed under President Donald Trump, as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Bunker said that it has rebounded a bit, but still not at the levels we were seeing several years ago.

The Chamber of CommerceChamber of Commerce also highlighted the impact of generous government assistance during the epidemic, which bolstered people's economic stability - allowing them to sit out of the labour force.