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U.S. Chamber Survey Suggests Half of Employees Left Unemployed by Pandemic Aren’t Actively Seeking Work

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce releases results of poll of workers who lost their job during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • About half of respondents said they aren’t actively searching for work, with 61 percent saying they’re in no hurry to find a new job
  • Survey highlights issues such as lack of available jobs in their sector, COVID-19 concerns, child care needs, lack of necessary skills, and enhanced unemployment

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

As the United States recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are finding it difficult to fill the job openings they have available. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests one reason for this problem: nearly half of the people who lost their job during the pandemic are in no hurry to get back to work, for a variety of reasons.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says data shows that 9.3 million people remain unemployed in the U.S. despite 8 million available job openings. In a poll of 506 workers left unemployed during the pandemic, 49 percent said they weren’t actively job hunting (versus 32 percent who said they were strongly active) and 61 percent said they weren’t rushing to find work.

  • 30 percent said they don’t expect to return to work this year, including 13 percent who said they don’t think they’ll ever return to work
  • Significant reasons creating a deterrent for resuming work include a lack of available jobs in sectors hit hard by COVID-19 (28 percent), concerns about COVID-19 (26 percent), child care and family needs (24 percent), and a lack of skills or experience to fill available jobs (23 percent)
  • 16 percent said it was “not worth looking” for a job due to enhanced unemployment benefits and government programs, and 13 percent had turned down at least one job offer
  • Four in 10 said they had altered their life in some way since losing their job, including one-fifth who began working part-time, one in 10 who became self-employed, and one in 10 who retired
  • The U.S. Chamber called for policy changes to address the issues highlighted in the report, including “increasing access to affordable childcare, investing in rapid job skilling, and rightsizing unemployment benefits”

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