On June 1, 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced its America Works Initiative to address the nation’s crisis-level workforce shortages that will only get worse with inaction. Its four point America Works Agenda includes expanding the workforce through immigration reform.
The U.S. Chamber urges concrete steps to advance its immigration reform agenda, including supporting passage of the Dream Act, the SECURE Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, currently needing Senate action. Their counterpart versions have already passed in the House of Representatives, and need 60 votes for Senate passage. Between them, these bills will legalize about 4 million immigrants who are already contributing members of our communities and workforce, including many who have worked in essential jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of its America Works Initiative, the U.S. Chamber also issued its Quantifying the Nation’s Workforce Crisis report that analyzed over 20 years of data and conducted surveys, looking for hiring and growth trends and identifying workforce challenges and the hardest hit industries, to better inform policy discussions to find solutions.
Unsurprisingly, the data reveals a sharp drop in the last decade, well before the pandemic, in the ratio of available workers for every job, from manual labor to those entailing high levels of education. This was borne out in the surveys, where nearly 90% of employers said they were having difficulty, or finding it very difficult, to find workers. Over 90% of respondents said labor force issues were the number one challenge crimping growth.
The America Works Initiative‘s immigration policy agenda also addresses needed reforms for employment based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, in addition to urging passage of the Dream, Secure, and Farm Workforce Modernization Acts.
But having already been passed in the House, the latter three bills present the most immediate chance for action, and represent an urgently needed first step to allow millions of immigrants to gain a path to permanent status that will give them security and the ability to unleash their full potential in the U.S.
Maine’s Senators’ support and leadership will be crucial to these bills’ prospects for passage, as well as for the success of badly needed broader immigration reforms.
Learn more about the Iniative here.