KERSHNER: Economic recovery depends on workforce: An open letter to United States Congress

Dear United States Congress:

After a long and difficult pandemic year, the United States is opening up again. May 2021 is looking very different from May 2020. Businesses are returning to full-steam, goods are being produced and shipped, and colleagues who haven’t sat together in a year are returning to workplaces eager to collaborate. The economic engine of the American economy is ready to charge forth.

Mission #1 is to get the economy fully reopened and operating so we can position our region for an unprecedented recovery. But there is one challenge that threatens to derail this progress and is preventing businesses from reopening at the speed of demand, one challenge that impacts every industry sector of our economy. Workforce.

To be clear, many businesses across the country were struggling to find the talent they needed even before the pandemic. We understand that workforce challenges are multi-faceted, complex and vary widely based on geographic location and industry. But what was challenging pre-pandemic has now become untenable. During the month of April 2021, 78% of Dayton-area employers are struggling to recruit workers.  Our economy cannot fully reopen when only ¼ of businesses are able to fill their job demands.

As business leaders we are struggling to recruit enough workers to meet the basic needs of our organizations, let alone enough workers to ramp up our business to the levels that the economy is truly demanding.  This isn’t just a problem for those of us who are manufacturers…. it’s a problem for the healthcare industry, construction companies, the logistics and transportation industry, service providers, the restaurant and hospitality industry, public sector, supply chains and the list goes on-and-on.

The extended pandemic unemployment benefits were a critical and necessary lifeline to displaced workers at the height of the pandemic. Now they are proving to be a disincentive to workers returning to jobs with steady paychecks and they are preventing our businesses from fully meeting our consumer demands. By the time the Covid-19 federal unemployment extensions expire in September, there will be fewer jobs for those workers to return to, as companies that can’t find talent could shutter for good or find a new path.

Economic recovery and growth is possible only if companies are able to find the workforce they need. There is no doubt that federal aid was critical to our overcoming the worst days of the pandemic.  However, we must stop dis-incentivizing workers to return to their jobs and careers. Taking care of those in need is important to all of our businesses.  This issue is not about ignoring those who are in need, it is about helping the economy reopen and creating a pathway forward for our most important resource, our people.

As of June 26, 2021, Ohio is supporting our economic recovery by opting out of the $300 pandemic federal unemployment benefit.  This action will help Dayton and Ohio businesses attract and retain a much needed workforce to keep up with the demand of their consumers.   Dayton area businesses do not just operate in Dayton, they operate across the country and around the world.  For the Dayton region and Ohio to be competitive in a global economy, the nation needs to be competitive.  We call on you, our elected delegation in Washington D.C., to follow Ohio’s lead and end the increased federal unemployment extension and help our national economy fully reopen by allowing our businesses to fill jobs openings and meet the economic recovery demands.


Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce
BelFlex Staffing Network
Benjamin Steel Co.
Brady Ware & Company
Brixey & Meyer
Darke County Chamber of Commerce
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Dayton Area Logistics Association
Dayton Region Manufacturers Assn.
DayMet Credit Union
Edge Webware, Inc.
Energy Optimizers, USA
EnviroControl Systems Inc.
Faruki PLL
Fifty-Five Manufacturing dba Global Foam Company
Fuyao Glass America
Grunder Landscaping Co.
ISupply Company
K-12 Gallery/Tejas
Korrect Plumbing
LJB Inc.
Martin Transportation Systems
Mason Deerfield Chamber
Miami Industrial Trucks Inc.
Miller-Valentine Construction
Northmont Area Chamber of Commerce
O’Neil & Associates
P & R Communications
Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce
PNC Bank
PuroClean Dayton
RLO Inc. dba Great Clips
Rush Delivery
Russ Hadick & Associates, Inc
Shook Construction
Springboro Chamber of Commerce
Starco Inc.
Staub Manufacturing Solutions
Sydney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe & Trenton
Think Patented
Tipp City Chamber of Commerce
Troy Area Chamber of Commerce
Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce
Voss Auto Network
WENCO Construction Company, LLC
Young’s Jersey Dairy

Download a PDF of this article as it appeared in the Dayton Daily News.