Labor shortage a 'national economic crisis': 5 details from US Chamber of Commerce report

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The biggest challenge for businesses right now is hiring qualified workers, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The agency released a report June 1 on the state of the U.S. job market through March.

"When businesses do not have enough employees, they are forced to turn down jobs, reduce hours, scale down their operations, and in the worst cases, permanently close. The latest data and surveys reveal a national economic crisis that is getting steadily worse," the report states.

Five takeaways:

1. There were 8.1 million job openings in the U.S. in March.

2. There are 1.4 available workers per job openings, lower than the 2.8 historical averages in the last 20 years. In educational and health services, there are 0.88 workers per job opening.

3. Over 90 percent of local and state chambers of commerce cite labor shortages as holding back their economies.

4. The five states with the lowest worker availability ratio are:

· South Dakota: 0.6
· Nebraska: 0.8
· Vermont: 0.9
· Kansas: 1
· Indiana: 1

5. In a survey of economists at trade associations nationwide, 67.3 percent said it was very difficult for businesses in their area to hire workers.

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