According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there is a huge shortage of workers in the United States right now. In fact, they say, if every unemployed person in the U.S. were to get a job, there would still be another 5 million job openings with nobody left to fill them. So, why is this?
The Effects of a Global Pandemic
A combination of businesses closing temporarily and millions of Americans deciding to leave the labor force have led to a huge shortage of workers. A quarter of a million people of working age died from Covid-19 and millions are now struggling with the effects of long Covid, where they are continuing to deal with symptoms of the virus.
The pandemic has also led to a large number of people taking retirement earlier than they had planned while many more decided to make changes to their work/life balance, preferring to spend time with their family than return to a job they did not enjoy.
Some people decided that lockdowns were the perfect time to start up new businesses. In fact, there were four million new business applications in 2020 alone. These new businesses have taken owners out of the labor market and have, in some instances, created new job opportunities. Both situations have compounded the labor shortage.
Childcare providers saw their businesses massively impacted during the pandemic. Many closed or scaled back on their services, which meant that when the economy opened up again, those working parents relying on childcare found it even harder to access high-quality yet affordable services.
Could Changes in Immigration Policy Help?
The issue of immigration has been highlighted in recent times. Moreover, the fact that the American economy desperately needs more workers means that there may be a need to change our policies. According to Brookings, more than one million immigrants have been deported from the U.S. in the past twenty years but with an aging population, there is no current way for the American workforce to meet the labor demands.
With so many job openings, it is hardly surprising that large numbers of people are trying to get across the Mexican border. Regardless of the difficulties they face and the large sums of money ($6,000 per person) that is paid to people smugglers, the promise of a better life in the States is seen as worth it by many of those trying to get across.
Is it Easy to Hire Foreign Workers?
Although there is a huge shortage of workers, it is not any easier to hire foreign workers. The expert immigration attorneys at Graham Adair say that the process can typically take a long time, which does not help employers in desperate need of new staff.
Before you can even advertise a position to foreign workers, you will need permission from the Department of Labor. You will need to prove that you cannot find U.S. workers willing to do the job at the designated rate of pay. With so much red tape involved, you should definitely seek advice from a professional attorney with experience in immigration law.
In addition to getting certification from the Department of Labor, you will then need to obtain the relevant visa for your foreign workers. This is done through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
It is important to remember that hiring foreign staff can take an average of 9 months and there is no guarantee that your application for a visa will be approved. Starting the process as early as possible then is therefore advisable.