Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On June 4, 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a poll titled “The COVID-19 Unemployed” that found many Americans who lost their jobs during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and remain unemployed never expect to return to work and that steep barriers stand in the way of those who do plan to return to work.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll – released on the same day that the May 2021 jobs report showed 9.3 million Americans remain unemployed – revealed that 30 percent of unemployed Americans did not expect to return to work any time in 2021, with nearly half of those people saying they never expect to return to work.
“We have 9.3 unemployed Americans and 8 million unfilled jobs. We have to do a better job filling these open jobs,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley stated in a press release, adding that elected leaders needed “to take immediate action to address this workforce crisis.”
For those unemployed people planning to return to work, the poll revealed significant barriers. Most notably, one in six people who lost jobs during the pandemic and are not currently seeking work said it is “not worth” searching for a job because of the money they currently earn from unemployment benefits. Other key findings include:
- Six in ten respondents said they were in no hurry to return to work.
- One in eight respondents who became unemployed during the pandemic and remain unemployed have turned down at least one job offer in the past year.
- More than a quarter of respondents – 28 percent – agreed that “there are a lot of people who are not looking for work because they can do almost or just as well collecting unemployment benefits.”
- Other common factors contributing to unemployed Americans not looking for work included childcare and other family care needs, a lack of available jobs due in sectors that are still suffering, and COVID-19 concerns.
- One in four survey respondents said they lacked the skills or experience necessary for most of the jobs available right now.
The poll of 506 Americans who lost jobs during the pandemic and have not returned to work was taken May 17 to 20, 2021, and has an overall survey margin of error +/-4.4 at the 95 percent confidence level, with stable and projectable bases across age, prior compensation, ethnicity, children at home, industry sector, and education.
On June 1, 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched America Works, a nationwide initiative mobilizing industry and government to address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis. To learn more about America Works, visit www.uschamber.com/america-works.
The jobs report for May 2021 released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that the number of unemployed persons fell by 496,000 to 9.3 million, which is down considerably from a recent high of 23.1 million in April 2020 but above the 5.7 million unemployed persons prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020.
COVID-19 is a deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of June 9, 2021, there are approximately 174 million global cases and 3.7 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 33 million cases and 598,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
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