UNDATED -- Unfilled jobs is a top concern for most employers these days. John Kircher with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave a presentation on that topic Wednesday at the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce's Government Affairs meeting.

Kircher says the labor force participation rate continues to be a concern. He says if we had the same participation rate as in February 2020 there would be 2.63 million more workers in America.

So where did everyone go? Over three million Americans started their retirement early, 3.5 million mothers left the workforce, and there are two million fewer immigrant workers because of COVID immigration restrictions. Meanwhile, over the last two years, nearly 10 million new small business applications were filed as Americans started their own companies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says for the people who are still unemployed they are spending their remaining stimulus money, dipping into their savings, and using the remaining expanded unemployment benefits.

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As for companies trying to entice people to work for them, they are doing things like offering hiring bonuses of $1,000 or more, providing more flexible hours, offering work from home options, increasing pay by up to five percent, and providing better health insurance.

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