There are three sets of implications this Covid surge has for hiring in the US. We’ll start to see the Delta variant’s ripple effects as soon as this week’s jobs report, in slower employment and labor force growth, as well as a more sluggish rate of offices reopening.

While we are unlikely to return to the restrictive shutdowns we saw last year, the fear of getting infected is likely to impact willingness to engage in in-person activities, including a wide range of consumption categories and work. It is now clear that Covid-19 will stay with us for the foreseeable future, and spending on in-person services in December 2021 will be weaker than had been expected before the Delta variant emerged. As a result, the demand for workers providing these services will be weaker and employment recovery by December 2021 will be far from complete.

While economic data for July was still solid, August indicators show softening. Real-time statistics show a significant drop in air travel sales, as well as movie theatres’ box office returns since July. And Google mobility measures show a drop in travel and leisure-related activities. Early readings from August suggest that consumer confidence has declined, while some businesses are seeing slowing sales.
Here's what the Delta variant means for the economic recovery

The increase in infection risk is likely to significantly impact two groups in particular: senior citizens and families with children younger than 12 (and thus not eligible for the vaccine). These groups spend disproportionally more on consumption categories, such as vacations, restaurants, childcare and services catering to kids. These industries are likely to recover more slowly than expected. In addition, given the ongoing global spread of the pandemic, international tourism will not be back to normal anytime soon.

As a result, this week’s jobs report and September’s will likely show slower than originally expected employment growth, especially in in-person services. In the previous Covid-19 surge from November to January, employment in leisure and hospitality not only slowed down, but declined during that period. The number of jobs available in December 2021 in these industries is likely to be lower than originally expected.

Labor supply will remain tight

We hoped that Covid’s continuing decline would reduce or eliminate barriers to returning to work, such as fear of infection or the threat of continued remote learning. But Delta’s persistence will keep people out of the job market. Some older workers who have been waiting for infection risk to disappear before they return to work may now retire.

In this week’s jobs report and the ones that follow, we are likely to see the recovery in labor force participation lose steam. At the same time, we expect more unemployed workers to find work as the high unemployment benefits gradually expire.

Remote work will make it harder to recover

Delta’s rise will slow the return to the office. The delay will lengthen and increase the economic damage to city centers, where many office buildings are located and where workers spend money on food, retail and other consumption categories.

May 12, 2021 — All exercise is not created equal, and the exercise you get during leisure time is better for your heart health than on-the-job exercise. In fact, on-the-job physical exercise may actually be harmful to heart health, according to a study published in April.

The difference in leisure-time exercise and workplace exercise is a phenomenon sometimes called the “physical activity paradox,” lead study author Andreas Holtermann, PhD, of the National Research Center for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark, tells WebMD.

“Our findings suggest that clinicians, patients, and managers ought to be aware that having a manual physical activity-demanding job might not improve fitness and health of the workers, while health-enhancing leisure-time physical activity ought to be promoted,” he says.


Do Exercise Guidelines Apply to Everyone?

According to the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, physical activity is essential to maintain and improve health, but these guidelines do not distinguish between leisure- and work-time physical activity. But some research has suggested that physical activity required at work may not provide the same benefits and may even increase heart risk.

These previous studies weren’t robust enough to offer definite conclusions. Also, “much of the existing evidence on physical activity and health is predominantly from leisure-time physical activity among higher-educated white-collar populations,” Holtermann says. The question is whether they apply to on-the-job exercise in other groups.

To home in on the differences between manual labor and leisure-time exercise, Holtermann and his team used data from 104,046 adults (between 20 and 100 years old) who took part in the Copenhagen General Population Study from 2003 to 2014. Participants came from the greater Copenhagen area, which included high- and low-income regions.

Participants self-reported their leisure and occupational physical activity, demographic, lifestyle, medical information, and living conditions. They also had a physical exam that included height, weight, resting blood pressure, and heart rate. Participants were then followed for an average of 10 years.


Quantity vs. Quality

During the follow-up period, there were 9,846 deaths from all causes (9.5% of participants) and 7,913 major heart events, such as fatal or nonfatal heart attacks or strokes (7.6% of participants).


High levels of leisure-time activity were associated with a lower risk of heart events and a lower risk of death. But lots of physical activity at work was linked to more chances of heart attacks and strokes and a higher risk of death.

Holtermann says the findings might seem “surprising,” in light of the recommendation from the World Health Organization that “all steps count toward better health.”

However, he has had “many years of experience” measuring physical activity demands placed upon manual laborers and has “long experience discussing this topic with employees and managers, unions, workplaces, and policymakers.”

To people working in these settings, “it is nothing new that the health effects of physical activity in work differ.” But many do not “consider