Posted on June 10, 2021

Chamber of Commerce: Worker Shortage Can’t Be Solved Without Ramping Up Immigration

Matt Egan, CNN, June 2, 2021

As businesses grapple with record-high job openings, the US Chamber of Commerce is loudly calling on Washington to allow more foreign workers to legally enter the country.

Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber of Commerce, told CNN Business that the worker shortage can’t be solved in the long run without ramping up immigration.


The Chamber is advocating for Congress and the White House to double the cap on employment-based visas, double the quota on H-1B visas for highly skilled temporary workers and H-2B visas for seasonal workers and take other steps to reform the immigration system.

“For several decades, immigration has been a key component of meeting the needs of a growing economy. However, immigration levels, particularly employment-based immigration, has been largely flat,” Bradley said.


Economists have long warned that the aging US population means the nation will need to rely on a steady influx of foreign workers to meet demand. Yet Washington has repeatedly failed to reach a deal on immigration reform. And the Trump administration repeatedly put up obstacles to legal immigration, including restrictions imposed in 2020 that cited the pandemic’s impact on the jobs market.

“Immigration was completely upended by the pandemic,” said Bradley. “Go to any resort town in America. Where you would normally have individuals on temporary J-1 visas, they are nonexistent.”

Even before the pandemic, the lottery systems that grant companies access to H-1B and H-2B visas were heavily oversubscribed, indicating strong demand for labor.


Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNN Business he’s hopeful that some worker shortage issues will be ironed out as schools and daycares reopen and enhanced unemployment benefits expire in September.

{snip}”There are reasons to believe it will be a bigger problem post-pandemic because immigration is a shadow of what it was.”


Citing “increased labor demands,” the Department of Homeland Security announced in April that it would increase the number of H-2B temporary visas to non-agricultural workers by 22,000.


The Chamber of Commerce is optimistic that the worsening labor shortage will soon convince lawmakers to allow more legal immigration. Bradley pointed to concerns that local residents will be impacted when seasonal businesses such as amusement parks and landscaping companies don’t have enough workers to operate.