August 05, 2022


A national crisis by the numbers

Right now, there are too many jobs without people to fill them. As a result, businesses can’t grow, compete, and thrive. The U.S. Chamber and Chamber Foundation's America Works initiative is mobilizing business and government to swiftly address the crisis.

This page captures the trends on job openings, labor force participation, quit rates, and more, for a quick understanding of the state of the workforce. Take a look behind the numbers at what is causing the worker shortage and learn which states and industries have been impacted the most.

The U.S. has lost millions of workers.

  • 62.1%
    labor force participation rate
  • 3.4M
    people have left the workforce since Feb. 2020

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that thousands of people are entering the workforce. This is good. However, labor force participation does not match what it was before the pandemic.

If the percentage of people participating in the labor force was the same as in February 2020, we would have 3.4 million more people in the workforce today—and this shortage is impacting all industries. If every unemployed worker took an open job in their industry, there would still be open jobs.

Where did the workers go? Boosted unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, and child tax credits have padded the finances of some previously employed workers, and they no longer need to work. Plus, early retirements and less immigration has left the nation in a worker deficit.

Data from July 2022 BLS Employment Situation report.
Data from July 2022 BLS Employment Situation report.

We have a lot of jobs, but not enough workers.

  • 10.7M
    open jobs in the U.S.
  • 5.7M
    unemployed workers in the U.S.

If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 5 million open jobs.

How did this happen? At the height of the pandemic, more than 120,000 businesses temporarily closed, and more than 30 million U.S. workers were unemployed. Since then, job openings have continued to climb, while unemployment has slowly declined.

July 2022 graphic coming soon.
July 2022 graphic coming soon.

Every state is feeling the impact of the worker shortage.

  • 66
    workers for every 100 open jobs in the U.S.
  • 29
    workers for every 100 open jobs in Nebraska

The Chamber’s Worker Shortage Index number indicates the number of available workers for every job opening. Nebraska, with the lowest ratio of 0.29, is suffering the most as workers leave the state to pursue opportunities and education elsewhere, without new workers coming in.

Washington, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania's all have a Worker Shortage Index above 0.9, meaning they are the closest states to having roughly equal numbers of available workers and job openings. There are no states right now that have a surplus of workers.

The Great Resignation is more like ‘The Great Reshuffle’

  • 2.8%
    national quit rate
  • 4.2%
    national hiring rate

The Great Resignation has pulsed through media headlines. However, ‘The Great Reshuffle’ is a more accurate explanation of the changes taking place in the workforce. The rate at which employees have quit their jobs has grown over the past year. But at the same time hiring continues to outpace quits.

June 2022 graphic coming soon.
June 2022 graphic coming soon.

Job openings have increased by 15% or more in every state since February 2020.

  • Kentucky
    highest percent increase in job openings
  • Oregon & Alaska
    lowest percent increase in job openings

Every state has more job openings today than it had before the pandemic. Job openings nearly doubled in Minnesota, Kentucky, and Georgia. Alaska, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C.— all places with smaller populations—had smaller increases, but still jumped an average of 34% from Jan. 2020 to April 2022.

Prior to the pandemic, 11 states had more than 200,000 job openings. That number has grown to 22 states, as of April 2022. Sixteen states had fewer than 50,000 vacant jobs just prior to the pandemic. Now, that number has shrunk to ten.

The Great Reshuffle has affected some industries more than others

  • 5.5%
    quit rate for leisure and hospitality industry
  • 1.5%
    quit rate for the financial activities industry

The Great Reshuffle has affected some industries more than others. Workers in traditionally lower paying industries, including leisure and hospitality and retail, have been most likely to quit their jobs. Meanwhile, in more stable, higher paying industries, the number of employees quitting has been lower.