The U.S. economy could come to a “screeching halt,” a small business owner warned Congress, if labor shortages and supply-chain disruptions aren’t fixed quickly.
John “Chuck” Fowke, a prominent home builder in Florida, detailed a host of obstacles that are holding back the housing industry and broader U.S. economy in a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
The most pressing issues, he said, were:
A huge labor shortage in which millions of open jobs are going unfilled. Companies can’t grow faster and meet customer needs without more workers.
And widespread supply-chain bottlenecks that are preventing companies from getting parts and materials on time or at reasonable prices.
Fowke recounted how his company, Homes by John C. Fowke in Valrico, Fla., ordered windows last November and only got them in June eight months later.
“Trying to schedule material deliveries has become almost impossible,” he said.
Even when he can get the materials he needs, Fowke said, prices are going through the roof. He used to be notified by suppliers of price increases every January. Now he gets such notices every week.
Here’s how Fowke laid the situation out to Congress in his own words:
“Everybody and anybody who works in this industry is in dire need of added labor. We’ve got to do something about the labor situation that will help with the supply chain,” he told lawmakers.
“If the supply-chain disruption continues, [higher] prices continue, inflation is going to hit us. Therefore [Federal Reserve] Chairman [Jerome] Powell is going to raise interest rates. And our entire economy is going to come to a screeching halt if something isn’t done, quickly, to get people back to work.”