Helen Muradyan, a second-year resident physician, stopped working last month. Not because her skills aren’t needed. To the contrary: The Southern California community hospital and health clinic that employed Muradyan struggle to find staff even during normal times. The pandemic worsened their staffing shortages. “At one point we were operating at 150 percent of capacity,” Muradyan told me. “We worked day, night. We worked without breaks or anything, without seeing our loved ones, without seeing our family.” But Muradyan, an immigrant from Armenia, had to stop working — because the U.S. government couldn’t be bothered to process her application to renew her work permit. Eventually, her existing work permit expired, and her employers had to terminate her.
Many factors contribute to our nationwide labor shortages, which are, in turn, driving supply-chain problems and inflation. Most of those issues — lack of child care, early retirements, fear of getting ill, burnout — would be difficult for employers or policymakers to resolve even if wages rise. But there’s one underappreciated factor contributing to labor shortfalls that the Biden administration could alleviate almost immediately: the “missing” immigrant workers.
Catherine Rampell, Douglas County News-Review, November 25, 2021
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