- Immigration would help mitigate inflation and the labor shortage, the Chamber of Commerce’s CEO said.
- She said that the US needed to double the number of people legally immigrating.
- “We should welcome people who want to come here, go to school, and stay,” Clark said.
Allowing more immigrants into the US would help mitigate both soaring inflation and the current labor shortage, the CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce said.
“We need more workers,” Suzanne Clark told reporters Tuesday, per CNN. “We should welcome people who want to come here, go to school, and stay.”
“That is a place the government could be particularly helpful and we do believe it would be anti-inflationary,” she said, per CNN.
At least 3.6 million workers have quit their jobs each month since April 2021, with many using the pandemic as an opportunity to evaluate what they want from work. Some have quit over wages, benefits, working hours, and a lack of remote work. Others have returned to education, switched industries, or taken early retirement. Industries ranging from retail to construction have been affected.
Labor shortages have been among the drivers of higher prices in the US – where year-over-year inflation neared a four-decade high of 6.8% in November – with competition for workers triggering a rise in wages.
A systemic shortage of workers in the supply chain – including truck drivers and agricultural workers – has also played a role, as a reduced supply of goods bumps up against higher, post-lockdown demand. Add to that port jams and more workers calling off sick due to the Omicron variant, and you’re left with spiraling inflation as products from electric vehicles and computers to groceries and paper are hit by delays and supply shortages – all leading to higher prices.
Increasing immigration would help lower inflation by solving some of those issues, such as the shortage of truck drivers, Clark said Tuesday, per CNN.
“If we can alleviate the worker shortage, it might be the fastest thing to do to impact inflation,” she said, per the broadcaster.
During her “State of American Business” address delivered later that day, Clark suggested doubling legal immigration.
“This workforce shortage is a crisis,” Clark said. “We have to grow our workforce if we want to grow our economy and stay competitive.”
“So, who wants to put their talent to work and pursue their dreams in a dynamic economy flush with opportunity? Immigrants of every skill level,” Clark said.
Estimates from the Census Bureau put net immigration at 1.07 million people in 2016. It’s fallen every year since, slumping to just 477,000 in 2020.
Many of the industries worst-affected by the current US labor shortage, including agriculture, food processing, and restaurants, have historically relied on immigrant labor.
The Chamber has been calling on federal policymakers to reform the legal immigration system to help employers meet demand for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors.
“We must double the number of people legally immigrating to the US,” Clark said Tuesday. “And we must create a permanent solution for the ‘dreamers’ — those young men and women who know no other home and who contribute to their communities, but whose legal status is in limbo.”