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The labor shortage has threatened the viability of many local economies and businesses, Republican and Democratic governors said in a letter to President Biden.
Governors from both parties sent a letter to President Biden to ask him to increase work-based visas to address the ongoing labor shortages.
Although some states and territories are experiencing low unemployment rates with strong economic recovery, the labor shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has threatened the viability of many local businesses and economies, the governors said in a letter to President Biden last week.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, tweeted photos of a letter signed by eight governors of both political parties, asking for an increase in work-based visas.
This week, I joined some of my fellow governors from both parties to ask President Biden to help us increase work-based visas to address persistent labor shortages, especially in the seafood industry. pic.twitter.com/GCGCSQfoco— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) January 13, 2022
The governors who signed the letter are:
- Spencer Cox from Utah
- Jared Polis from Colorado
- Leon Guerrero from the Territory of Guam
- David Ige from Hawaii
- Janet Mills from Maine
- Larry Hogan from Maryland
- Charlie Baker from Massachusetts
- Phil Scott from Vermont
While there are many causes of the labor shortage outside of their control, the governors said they want to focus on policy solutions that they can control. One is increasing the number of temporary foreign workers coming into the U.S. by exchange or worker visas, according to the letter.
A new wave of immigrants would also allow mid-sized cities to sustain their recent economic growth, much of which can be attributed to immigration that occurred over the past decade, according to a report by Brookings. Allowing more foreign-born people into the U.S. could help solve the country’s labor force challenges and catalyze upward mobility for American-born workers, the report contends.
Although the governors said they “understand” why many of the visas are going to health care workers to help battle the pandemic, they are “strongly encouraging” the president expand his focus and prioritize a broader range of skill sets.
For example, Republican Cox said in a recent tweet he "sent this letter to help Utah’s ski industry, our summer tourism businesses and many other industries who need work-based visas to thrive."
In addition to asking for help, the governors said they are doing “all within our power” to create an economic environment that ensures growth. This includes investing in programs to reskill the workforce for the jobs currently in demand, considering changes to tax codes that would make work more attractive, supporting impacted businesses and more to reduce barriers to workforce participation.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.
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