New York (CNN Business)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.
“We’ve never seen a situation this broad-based across the country where businesses are having to turn down work because they simply can’t find the workers to do it,” Bradley said. “This crisis is not going to go away.”
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.
‘Immigration is a shadow of what it was’
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.
By Matt Egan for CNN BUSINESS
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