Worker shortage focus of roundtable hosted by Rep. Huizenga

Ottawa County

JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As businesses nationwide try to bounce back from the harmful impact of a pandemic, finding workers is a big and ongoing concern.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, heard about it from business owners in his district at a roundtable discussion at a Hudsonville-area company Friday.

The congressman heard what he said he already knew: that in almost every sector, finding and retaining employees is a struggle that threatens to slow down recovery for everything from manufacturing to the service sector and agriculture.

“We know that we have disincentivized people to come back to work,” Huizenga said. “That has been a challenge, getting people back to work. Workforce participation rates for 18- to 24-year-olds. One economist said to me, he said, they fell off the face of the earth, they’re basically not there working the way they had in the past. Older workers have come back. Part of that might be the culture, right, that expectation that I should go back to work if I can go back to work.”

The worker shortage is a significant issue pointed out by most people at the roundtable discussion but Huizenga said that’s not the only problem. He said everything from government restrictions, lack of an adequate U.S.-based supply chain and even federal energy policies can create barriers for businesses to bounce back.

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