Summary of US Labor Shortages

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US Labor Shortages summary

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Employers in the United States are struggling with structural transitions in the workforce that point to declining numbers of blue-collar workers and manual laborers. According to this authoritative yet accessible analysis from professionals at the Conference Board, firms that employ these workers need to rely on creative hiring and retention measures, but a broad array of government measures could also aid their efforts. Future US economic growth, especially in a post-COVID-19 economy, will likely depend on the joint efforts of the private and public sectors. 

About the Authors

Gad Levanon heads the Conference Board Labor Market Institute, where Elizabeth Crofoot is a senior economist, Frank Steemers is an associate economist and Robin Erickson is a principal researcher.


Changes in the workforce have caused some sectors of the US labor market to tighten.

Structural shifts in the US labor market are driving an overall decline in the number of available workers and a scarcity of blue-collar and manual laborers in particular. The generational movement of baby boomers into retirement is markedly reducing the working-age population and will continue to do so through 2030. Surging disability rates among the non-college educated also have tamped down the number of available workers.

At the same time, the...

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