Visa Crunch

Unfilled Jobs In The US Is Slowing Down The Economy

Even as the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no denying that its consequences have been far-reaching.

The United States is still experiencing a labour deficit, which has sparked debate about how immigrant labour contributes to this shortfall. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), 11 million jobs in the United States are currently unfilled, exceeding experts’ estimates.

Part of the reason for the increase is an increase in hospitality jobs, such as hotel and food service occupations. Given the considerable number of job postings, the number of new recruits has remained stable at around 6.5 million.

Considering these startling statistics, the concern remains, what is creating this labour shortage and how can it be addressed most effectively?

A number of variables, including an increase in the number of Americans opting to retire and a dearth of adequate and inexpensive childcare in the United States, contribute to the shortage, as per a recent CNN story.

Another factor for the labour scarcity is the COVID-19 pandemic’s aftermath. Many Americans who would otherwise return to work but are afraid of COVID-19 or its variants are unable or unwilling to do so.

Without a doubt, the current labour shortage is driven by a wide range of issues, including federal unemployment insurance and vaccine-related problems. An often-overlooked element, however, is the scarcity of foreign employees able to enter and work in the United States. Pennsylvania is reflected in the national data.

Western Pennsylvania has yet to return to pre-pandemic employment levels, and Governor Wolf just signed an executive order aimed at ensuring worker safety in the middle of the pandemic. Others argue, however, that American immigration policy is an underappreciated factor in the persistent labour shortfall.

A recent NPR piece detailed the story of Jagdeep Nayyar, the owner, and chef at My Taste of India, a popular roadside stop for truckers travelling through Central Pennsylvania on Interstate 81. 

Punjabis, in fact, has become an essential element of the transportation sector.

According to Raman Singh Dhillon, president of the North American Punjabi Trucking Association, the region is home to one-fifth of all truckers. Furthermore, as the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed American immigration, fewer and fewer Punjabis have been able to enter the country and fill these trucking jobs.

The effects of international workers on the US economy have lately gotten the attention of the White House, which announced on December 20, 2021, its plan to make an additional 20,000 seasonal guest-worker visas available for the winter season.

This comes on the heels of a similar surge in seasonal visas last summer. Employers can sponsor foreign workers to enter the United States for temporary non-agricultural occupations using H-2B visas. It is yet to be seen how this rise in seasonal workers will affect the overall unemployment problem.

Although there are several causes contributing to the labour shortage, the contributions of foreign workers to the US economy cannot be underestimated.

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