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Bringing People Back into the Workforce

Posted on May 26, 2021

As the Massachusetts economy re-opens, employers across all sectors are struggling to fill job openings. The problem is a national one – even as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, millions of Americans are not returning to work for a variety of reasons and employers cannot meet their hiring needs.

In a survey conducted by Associated Industries of Massachusetts in late March, 60 percent of responding companies indicated they were experiencing job vacancies and 53 percent could not find qualified candidates to fill those vacancies.

Getting qualified workers back into the workforce is an AIM priority.

Last week AIM helped to secure a reinstatement of the work-search requirement for claimants receiving unemployment insurance. Starting June 13 beneficiary recipients will be required to perform work searches and connect with employers seeking applicants in their area.

It is an important first step in linking supply and demand in the labor market.

AIM is also advocating for amendments to the Senate budget that will establish state-sponsored bonuses for workers who leave unemployment insurance and stay at a new job for several months. Other states are using a portion of their federal stimulus aid for similar programs that offer bonuses as high as $2,000. The commonwealth should follow suit.

Unemployment insurance policies are just part of the puzzle. We know that COVID-19 has impacted gender representation in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 2 million women have permanently left the workforce.

Disproportionate childcare responsibilities and other gendered barriers are likely driving this trend, which appears to be getting worse. In the April jobs report, 165,000 women left the workforce, meaning they stopped looking for work altogether. About 355,000 men joined it.

AIM last year launched an initiative called Pink Slip to encourage companies to adopt policies that will affect change in female workforce development/retention. The association issued specific recommendations that include providing pay increases and advancement steps to women and other caregivers on time rather than penalizing those who have been on leave or working limited hours.

Despite making good strides on the public health front, many workers remain apprehensive about taking on a job due to the risks associated with COVID-19, particularly for those in the population who are still unable to obtain a vaccine.

AIM is committed to taking a comprehensive approach to the labor shortage and is exploring all options with our partners in government to find solutions to bring people back to work.

If you are interested in learning more about what AIM is doing on workforce issues, please contact Sam Larson at