WASHINGTON, D.C.—On September 21, 2023, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced the Commission on the American Workforce Act alongside Congresswoman Shontel Brown (OH-11). This bipartisan bill would create a commission that brings together leading experts across industries, public services, labor, and community organizations to develop an understanding of how existing labor shortages developed and what policymakers can do to bridge the gap.
“Main Streets across Northeast Ohio strengthen our local economies, yet they are facing immense shortages of qualified workers,” said Congressman Joyce. “By learning more about the threats to the modern-day workforce, this bill will allow American small businesses to not only survive but thrive. As a strong supporter of workforce development, I am proud to help advance this legislation in the House alongside Congresswoman Brown.”
“The grit and ingenuity of America’s workers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses helped rebuild our vibrant economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But more work is needed as we examine and address the changing economy, which often still results in more job openings than trained workers. The Commission on the American Workforce Act will bring leading experts together to study labor shortages and provide lawmakers with effective guidelines to find solutions for future challenges. I’m proud to work with Congressman Joyce on this bipartisan, data-driven legislation,” said Congresswoman Shontel Brown.
In recent years, the labor force participation rate, which captures the percentage of the population that is either working or actively looking for work, fell steeply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the labor force participation rate is 62.8%. This is below its level in February 2020, the month before the pandemic began pummeling the U.S. economy.
Currently, nearly 10 million jobs remain unfilled in America’s most technical fields due to a lack of qualified applicants while the hospitality industry, restaurants, and retail businesses, as well as schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies continue to face critical labor shortages. As a result, Americans have found stores and restaurants operating at reduced hours and charging higher prices. The causes of the ongoing labor shortfall are poorly understood and its impact is widespread, affecting college-educated and non-college-educated positions, public and private, for-profit and non-profit.
The Commission on the American Workforce Act aims to bridge this information gap and overcome the labor shortage crisis undermining America’s economy by creating a commission to investigate what has caused these significant changes in the workforce and develop potential solutions that Congress can consider in the future. Specifically, the commission will:
- Bring together a range of experts from across American industry, academia, labor, and the public and private sector to leverage their first-hand experiences and knowledge about the challenges facing our country’s workforce and economy.
- Determine the extent to which COVID-19, remote work, the skills gap, demographic and family changes, federal and state policies, drug abuse, immigration, the decline in America manufacturing, the lingering impacts of past recessions and economic crises, and a variety of other factors have contributed to America’s workforce shortage.
- Make actionable proposals that Congress can consider and potentially enact to alleviate problems in the makeup of the American workforce and gainful employment.
Read the full text of the bill here.