June 29, 2023

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten tells Alsip town hall manufacturing surging, but employers still have trouble filling jobs

In inheriting a new congressional district that includes communities such as Alsip, with a significant industrial base, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, said he went from a territory that is mostly residential to a place “where people work.”

Casten has been using town hall sessions to familiarize himself with the new 6th Congressional District, and at a stop in Alsip said the U.S. is “seeing an unprecedented surge in manufacturing.”

Still, he said, there is a problem of plentiful jobs available in just about every sector of the economy, as employers continue to have a hard time filling them.

Casten spoke Wednesday in Alsip, the same day President Joe Biden was in Chicago on a campaign stop where “Bidenomics” was touted as helping the middle class.

Although Casten did not mention “Bidenomics” during his talk to about 70 people at Village Hall, he echoed comments made by the president that the U.S. has seen, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the strongest economic growth among the world’s leading economies.

He credited federal initiatives such as the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act, with incentives for firms to buy American-made goods, for helping bolster the manufacturing sector, which had shed many jobs.

For the economy overall, “we went from a buyer’s market for labor to a seller’s market,” Casten said.

The economy had, from 2000 through 2017, more available workers than jobs to fill, but that has since shifted, with the current situation being a lot more jobs than workers, he said.

That has created “this dynamic that is fantastic for workers, but difficult for employers” as they have to boost wages to attract employees, Casten said.

That dovetailed into a question from an audience member about immigration policy, with Casten saying those seeking entry into this country could help fill jobs that are going wanting.

“Clearly, we want to make sure we secure our borders,” he said.

Noting that among potential immigrants are asylum-seekers, Casten said there “still has to be a process in place to say we are verifying that these are legitimate claims.”

Once that process is done, “now let’s help employers put that person to work,” the congressman said.

The federal government, however, needs to devote more resources to processing those seeking entry, Casten said.

“We haven’t provided the resources to that immigration clearing process,” he said. “We need to get more resources to those folks to get it done.”

Noting the flow of immigrants into Illinois, Casten said it is “straining Illinois resources,” and said he wants to see more federal dollars flowing to the state to care for immigrants.

Casten won a third term in last November’s general election with 54.4% of the vote, defeating Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

The redrawn district includes Chicago’s Beverly and Mount Greenwood communities as well as suburbs including Alsip, Hickory Hills, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Park and Worth.

By:  Mike Nolan
Source: Chicago Tribune