Worker shortage holding US economy back: Kevin Brady

One of the tightest labor markets in more than a decade is forcing the U.S. economy to cool down slightly, according to Rep. Kevin Brady.

“What’s holding our economy back is workers,” he said on Saturday during an interview with FOX Business’ Dagen McDowell. “We don’t have enough of them with the right skills.”

Brady’s comments come on the heel of the Department of Labor’s November jobs report, which showed a slowdown in job creation last month -- 155,000 new positions, compared to Wall Street’s expectation of 200,000 -- and a steady unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, the lowest in five decades.

Experts suggest the unemployment rate hasn’t dropped because workers are either not qualified to take certain available jobs, or (more likely) not incentivized, probably because of small wages.

“The unemployment rate reflects a tight labor market as the availability workers is low,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree. “The participation rate of 62.9 percent suggests that people on the sidelines are not sufficiently attracted by the level of wages to enter the job market.”

Businesses, both large and small, have said they’ve been unable to find qualified workers and therefore have been unable to expand their operations, according to Brady.

“Main Street, boy, the confidence is very high,” he said. “They’re looking for workers, all sides of businesses.”