The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce will publish the following opening letter to the Ohio Congressional Delegation in the Dayton Daily News later this month. We’re asking chamber member businesses to sign on to this letter in support of its message. If you’d like to add your business name to the list of member signatories, please email Amanda Bergmann, Business Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re: Economic Recovery Depends on Workforce: An Open Letter to the Ohio Congressional Delegation
Dear Ohio Congressional Delegation:
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.
After 14 months of unprecedented financial assistance, workers now face a choice: return to work and lose the Covid-19 federal unemployment assistance that has been extended to September 6th, or remain out of the workforce and continue to draw those benefits.
These extended and increased 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 that are in need, but instead it is about helping the economy reopen and creating a pathway forward for our most important resource, our people.
We call on you, our elected delegation in Washington D.C., to end the increased federal unemployment extension and help our economy fully reopen by allowing our businesses to employ Ohioans, fill jobs openings and meet the economic recovery demands of the Dayton region, Ohio and the nation.