WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – On Wednesday, a Congressional Committee met to find ways to fill the 6 million jobs U.S. employers cannot seem to fill — even though the labor department says 7 million Americans are unemployed.
University of Michigan Professor Betsey Stevenson told Congress if U.S. employers want to attract more workers, they need to offer more programs, like paid family leave.
“Research has shown that female labor participation would be six percentage points higher in the U.S. if we had access to childcare and paid family leave that other countries have,” she said.
Stevenson went on to say that paid leave would help the entire workforce, not just women.
“Paid family leave policies create better attachment of women to the labor force and that greater attachment leads to greater wage growth, which increases overall participation.”
But not everyone on the panel agreed.
“It basically raises the cost employment. We’ve already been decrying the lack of job opportunities,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, of the Manhattan Institute. “Any mandated cost on employers increases the move to technology, the substitution of technology for workers.”
Stevenson said she believes paid leave can actually save employers money in the long run.
“They’re able to keep workers, they come back, and they cut back on the recruitment costs, the heavy turnover cost.”
The committee chairman, Ohio Congressman Pat Tiberi, said forcing employers to offer paid leave could hurt small business.
“What we don’t want to do is mandate on all employers additional regulations.”
Even though he doesn’t support a mandate, Tiberi said businesses should explore offering paid leave to be more competitive when recruiting talent.