The national unemployment rate dropped another half-percentage point last month to a 16-month low, which may signal economic repair, according to a recently released progress report by Staffmark. The report cites industries’ preparation for fall events as a significant factor in the increase in work.
The pandemic’s effect on unemployment is also letting up due in part to job seekers having an easier time searching for jobs due to fewer restrictions, as well as significant declines in company layoffs and part-time demotions.
However, the report states that the total employment number still sits 6.1 percent below the pre-pandemic level. The national unemployment rate was 5.4 percent with 8.7 million persons reporting unemployment in July 2021.
Despite signs of recovery, the national job openings rate was at 6.5 percent last month. Professional and business services had the largest increase of unfilled positions, with vacancies increasing by 121,000. Small business owners are among the hardest hit as nearly half report having unfilled job openings this past month according to a NFIB job report, with 25 percent of those openings being for unskilled labor.
In further good news for job seekers, 38 percent of employers now report providing wage increases for their workers and 27 percent plan a raise over the remainder of the year. Employers are also planning to give bigger raises in 2022, according to a survey conducted by Wills Towers Watson. According to survey results, some professionals could expect to see an average of 3 percent increase in wages.
For employers struggling to recruit and retain workers, Staffmark’s report suggests competitive base rate pay, bonus opportunities and improved job perks and benefits as possible solutions.
A lot of uncertainty still lingers in the midst of the pandemic, though. Ninety-five percent of workers reported considering a job change, according to a report from Monster.com, with many citing burnout and lack of growth as reasons behind their dissatisfaction. Roughly 3.9 million people quit their jobs in June 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the majority in professional and business services. The steady increase in job openings is also a contributing factor to employee restlessness as many become curious about better opportunities.
The amount of remote job openings has also notably progressed throughout 2021 at an average of 147,127 per month. The current number of remote job openings is at 235,965 and shows no signs of slowing down soon. The report states, “The future of work is trending toward a hybrid model.” Eighty percent of large U.S. businesses is aiming for “hybrid guided flexibility” by the end of 2021, according to a CBRE survey.
It is important to note however that many of these improvements could be overshadowed by the fact that the rapid wage growth is likely to lead to higher inflation in the coming year, according to head of Conference Board Labor Markets Institute, Gad Levanon. The report also states enhanced unemployment benefits, fears of getting infected, a lack of childcare and interest in pursuing and preparing for a different type of career remain obstacles for job market recovery.