MARCO ISLAND, FLA.— If baking and snack producers think the labor shortage may end shortly, how about looking into the next few years? Quite frankly, it’s not great. In fact, be prepared for it to not improve any time soon.

That’s what Brian Beaulieu, chief executive officer and chief economist at ITR Economics, said at SNAC International’s Executive Leadership Forum (ELF), in Marco Island, Fla.

“This labor shortage is going to last through the rest of this decade,” he said. “We’re not all of a sudden going to be able to manufacture people, and I don’t think we are going to allow immigration to mitigate our problems.”

Mr. Beaulieu admitted he had no explanation for the labor shortage, but at the same time, the data have been showing a significant level of unemployment. He was confounded as to why people don’t want to return to work for snack and bakery operations, or manufacturing operations in general.

His observations are much different from his predictions two years ago, when labor and supply chain difficulties were much different. At ELF two years ago, ITR Economics’ research predicted that the economy may decline in 2023.

“That will be the worst business cycle experience that you will have to go through since the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009,” he said at the time. “It is not going to be pleasant.”

Today, ITR has moved its recession predictions to late 2025 or 2026, and that means good news for snack producers and the manufacturing industry in the meantime.