LANCASTER, PA — Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a hearing today at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce on the Economic Impact of the Workforce Shortage.
“As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our businesses and slowing our economic recovery,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Businesses across my district and throughout the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. Today’s hearing will help the committee and the General Assembly learn more about workforce development reforms that will help our businesses, our communities and the people of Pennsylvania as we rebuild our economy.”
The committee heard testimony from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) also joined Senator Yudichak and committee members at the hearing.
“Small businesses in Lancaster County and across this Commonwealth have already suffered immensely due to the restrictions and forced closures they had to endure throughout the pandemic, and now the workforce shortage threatens to delay their recovery even further,” said Senator Aument. “Anything that we as elected officials can do to help employers and employees get back on track and move our state’s economy forward is worthwhile. I commend Senator Yudichak for calling this hearing, so that we can learn more about this problem and work together to find commonsense solutions.”
“When you drive down any street in Lancaster County, you see ‘Help Wanted’ signs on lawns or in store fronts almost everywhere,” Senator Scott Martin (R-13) said. “We know that unfulfilled jobs are causing employers to shutter permanently and scale back operating hours. Workforce shortages also mean supply chain disruptions and increased prices on other goods and services. Whether we realize it or not, the impact of this is rippling through our economy and impacting all of us and our families. I’m thankful for Chairman Yudichak’s willingness to take a closer look at pocketbook issues such as this, so we can fully identify the needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation.”
A May 2021 survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that forty-nine percent of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic said they are not actively or not very actively looking for work.
“Big and small, businesses across the Commonwealth are facing an unprecedented workforce crisis that threatens their survival and Pennsylvania’s overall economic recovery. Today’s hearing was an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges Pennsylvania businesses face and how industry and lawmakers can work together to help return Pennsylvanians to work and jumpstart our state’s economy,” said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association testified that the shortage is exacerbated in the hospitality industry because it takes so many people to run a restaurant or a hotel. The restaurant business generates more jobs per dollar of revenue than virtually any other industry and is the third largest non-farm employer in the country.
“Workforce is by far the most pressing issue the hospitality industry faces. I have never seen such a severe shortage in my 40-year career,” said John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. “There are several ways the legislature can help us address this crisis, including support for industry-specific workforce development programs and the association health plan, which would allow our members to affordably provide health insurance to their employees.”
All committee materials from the hearing, including a video of the hearing will be accessible here as soon as they are available: https://community.pasenategop.com/072821/