The private sector has a powerful incentive to treat opioid addiction in this country — the dearth of able-bodied workers willing to fill the many jobs that have been created, Sen. Rob Portman wrote in a column for The Washington Post.
The Ohio Republican writes that in his state, "employers increasingly tell me that their biggest challenge is finding workers."
Addiction has sidelined "working-age Americans who are outside the economy, not working or even looking for work," Portman writes, adding that if those Americans were included in the unemployment rate, it "wouldn't be 3.9 percent — it would be a disappointing 8.6 percent."
"Most businesses recognize the difficulty of finding workers who can pass a drug test, but the workforce impact is far deeper because millions of Americans who are out of work aren't even showing up to take the drug test in the first place," Portman writes.
"Addiction takes over lives, strips affected Americans of their ambition and tears at the very fabric of our society. It is also undermining our economy at a time when workers are badly needed," Portman wrote.
Portman writes that the opioid epidemic "will ultimately be solved at the local level."
"Everyone has a role to play, including business leaders. It is time for them to step up in a more significant way with solutions within their companies and in their cities and towns," Portman writes.
"Based on the clear impact opioids are having on workforce availability, the private sector has every incentive to step up. We all have a role to play in getting people off the sidelines and back to productive lives so they can live up to their God-given potential," Portman concludes.
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