Employers scrambling to hire staff amid widespread labour shortages after lockdown helped to return the number of workers on company payrolls to pre-pandemic levels in August, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics said the number of payroll employees increased by 241,000 to 29.1 million in August, lifting employment in all regions of the UK to pre-Covid levels except in London, Scotland and south-east England.

It came as the number of job vacancies soared to more than 1m in August for the first time since official records began in 2001, rising by 35% in the space of three months across all sectors of the British economy.

Reflecting difficulty hiring staff after lockdown for a wide range of businesses across Britain, the ONS said the largest increase was in accommodation and food services – the sector which includes hotels, pubs and restaurants – with a 75% increase over the past three months.

UK payroll employees chart

Business leaders have warned that shortages of workers and raw materials will hold back Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with lobby groups calling for looser post-Brexit migration rules to enable firms to hire more staff from the EU.

The number of EU nationals working in Britain has dropped during the pandemic as many workers returned to their home countries, while ongoing concerns around Covid, pandemic restrictions, and post-Brexit migration rules have limited their return.

Despite the rise in the number of payrolled employees in August, which is collected from HMRC data, the ONS said employment in the UK still remained below pre-Covid levels in official data gathered in its labour force survey in the three months to July.

Unemployment was estimated at 4.6%, a drop of 0.3 percentage points on the previous quarter but still 0.6 percentage points higher than before the pandemic struck.

UK job vacancies chart

Employment, which measures the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work, rose steadily to 75.2% in the three months to the end of July, but remains 1.3 percentage points lower than pre-Covid levels.

The official headline rates differ from the HMRC payroll numbers because they are based on surveys rather than company filings and cover a three-month period. The HMRC figures also exclude self-employment and may double count some workers who have more than one job.

About 1.6m jobs were still furloughed at the end of July, according to the latest data published by HMRC last week, with the highest numbers in sectors of the economy where pandemic restrictions are toughest. More than half of the total workforce in air passenger transport remains on furlough, while there are also large numbers in the arts and leisure industries.

Nye Cominetti, the senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said self-employment remains 700,000 down on pre-Covid levels, adding that as many as 1 million employees could still be on furlough when the scheme closes at the end of this month.

“There is still ground to make up in the labour market. With the furlough scheme ending

Certain industries are in need of workers, but employment in the Knoxville area isn’t that far off pre-pandemic levels.

In June, there were 415,339 employed people in the Knoxville metropolitan statistical area, about 3,600 fewer than February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

That’s less than 1% off from pre-pandemic employment levels and well above the pandemic low of 354,000 in April 2020. 

“The best I can tell you is that overall in the aggregate, it looks like as many people are working now in Knoxville as they were before the pandemic,” said Matt Harris, associate professor of economics at the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.

There are also hundreds of new jobs in the pipeline. Last week, international firm IGT Technologies announced it had opened a Knoxville location, had already hired about 150 people and planned to double that workforce locally. 

“What’s really happened is that the job market is trying to grow leaps and bounds,” Harris said. “But there’s not the new blood that they’re craving.”

More:India-based IGT Technologies announces hundreds of jobs, incubator 

More:How ORNL, Department of Energy contractors are growing state economy

More:These 20 Knoxville-area companies named ‘fastest-growing’ on national list

Shortages focused in certain industries

Job fair attendees Lizzie McCroskey, center right, and Lorri McCroskey, right, visit the booth for Ruby Tuesday at McGhee Tyson Airport's job fair held at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

There are certainly some industries in Knoxville feeling the pain. 

According to BLS data from June, employment was down from pre-pandemic levels in leisure and hospitality; education and health services; mining, logging and construction; and government. 

Employment was up in manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and “other services.” Employment neared pre-pandemic levels in information and financial activities.

There were 35,929 active job postings in the Knoxville MSA in June, according to the Knoxville Area Chamber of Commerce, down about 2,000 from May. The industries with the most number of job postings were: 

  • retail (4,852 postings).
  • administrative support, waste management, and remediation services (4,638 postings).
  • health care (3,946 postings).
  • professional, scientific and technical services (3,047 postings).
  • accommodation and food services (2,431 postings).
  • manufacturing (1,788 postings).
  • transportation and warehousing (1,750 postings).

Although the local labor force — the sum of employed and unemployed people in the Knoxville area — grew by 1.2% from May to June, “if every unemployed person in the Knoxville MSA got hired today, they would now be able to fill 58% of the job openings,” according to the Chamber’s most recent economic outlook update.

Knoxville’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in June, lower than in Chattanooga, Memphis and Tennessee, according to BLS data. It was 3.6% in February 2020 and 13.8% in April 2020, its peak during the pandemic.

“Overall, the changes in employment in Tennessee followed national trends but at less severe levels,” according to a report from The Sycamore Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center. In the state, the largest job losses occurred among low-income positions and hospitality, but those losses weren’t as severe as they were nationwide. 

The Sycamore Institute study concluded that slow improvements in employment could translate to slower recovery, higher

JUNEAU – July job numbers in Alaska were up over a year earlier, but few industries have reached their pre-pandemic employment levels, according to a state labor department report released Friday.

Alaska had about 17,700 more jobs last month compared to July 2020, but 30,100 fewer than in July 2019.

Industries such as leisure and hospitality, hit hard last year by restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, posted gains over July 2020. The leisure and hospitality sector had about 5,100 more jobs than a year earlier, retail had 1,600 more and the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector was up 3,600 jobs, the report states.

But those areas lagged July 2019 levels. Leisure and hospitality, for example, had 10,800 fewer jobs last month than in July 2019.

The oil and gas sector, which saw employment fall to its lowest level in decades last year, had fewer jobs last month than a year earlier, the report says. The industry lost more than 4,000 jobs in 2020, and had 3,200 fewer jobs last month than in July 2019, the report says.

“The July estimate of 6,800 jobs, along with small upward revisions to previous months’ numbers, suggests modest signs of recovery in those high-wage jobs,” according to the report.

Jobs in education and health care were up compared to July 2020 and July 2019, the report said.

Restaurant jobs are still behind, according to the latest numbers.

Ben Roy talks junk about 2020 during the first-ever monthly comedy night at Number Thirty Eight in Five Points. Nov. 19, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

If you work in arts, entertainment or recreation in the metro, you’re probably back to work.

That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which dropped the latest results from its Current Employment Statistics program last week. The agency generates its numbers on filled jobs from a monthly survey.

In June, it estimates, workers in the statistical area encompassing Denver, Aurora and Lakewood filled 26,900 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation industries. It’s the first time since COVID-19 arrived that number rose above February 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) benchmark for recovery.

Restaurants jobs are ticking their way back toward pre-pandemic levels, but workers still filled 16 percent fewer positions than they did 18 months ago.

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ryan Gedney, senior economist with the CDLE, said we can use these numbers as a general indicator of industry health in the city. We called him a couple of weeks ago, before June’s jobs numbers came out. When we spoke, he said job losses in both restaurants and arts categories in Denver were responsible for the larger trends he’s been watching statewide (they both fit under a broader “leisure and hospitality” category).

For one thing, he told us, Denver represents about 55 percent of employment in the state. But the losses in these categories were also massive.

“At the state level, leisure and hospitality employment dropped, in April 2020, down to levels not seen since 1992,” he told us.

Improvements here have been nearly as weighty. From January to May, he said, the broader leisure and hospitality category were responsible for 60 percent of all job gains in the state.

“That’s a ton, that’s an incredible amount,” he said.

Here are a few more interesting tidbits from the data drop:

1. Jobs constructing buildings, specifically, took their biggest hit since 2012 during the pandemic. They almost hit February 2020 levels last month, missing the mark by about 300 positions in all.

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Source: U.S. Department of Labor

2. Delivery jobs hit an all-time high last year. Gedney said these positions are mostly FexEx and UPS drivers, not necessarily Amazon gig workers, and they usually peak in December during the holiday season. Last year, when we all became very comfortable ordering things instead of going to stores, the number of filled courier and messenger jobs hit an all-time high in the metro.

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Retail and ambulance jobs experienced pretty strikingly similar patterns last year. They both dipped during the height of the pandemic, but recovered pretty quickly. Retail jobs made a full recovery, and remained higher than the Feb. 2020 benchmark last month. Ambulance jobs still haven’t quite gotten back to their former glory. In June, they still lagged by more than 1,000 filled positions compared to the benchmark.

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

It remains to be seen

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska had about 17,000 more jobs last month than it did in June 2020, with most industries seeing gains over that period but still falling below pre-pandemic levels, a report released Friday by the state labor department shows.

The state had about 30,600 fewer jobs last month than in June 2019, according to the report.

Industries hard-hit during 2020 saw big gains in the new report, the department said. For example, there were 4,500 more jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than a year earlier and 4,200 more in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

However, there were 11,300 fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than in June 2019 and 6,300 fewer in trade, transportation and utilities, according to the report.

Health care employment and construction were up from June 2020 and equaled their June 2019 numbers. Manufacturing, which the department said is mainly seafood processing, had 1,200 more jobs last month than a year earlier and 100 fewer than in June 2019.

Whether Alaska is in a recession “is a natural question but not one that we are focused on,” said Karinne Wiebold, a state labor department economist, in an email.

The COVID-19 pandemic “was such a singular shock to the economy that the employment effects are really not like a traditional recession. It will take a while to see if the economy rebounds from the shock in a relatively short time after the pandemic has passed, or if employment remains depressed,” she wrote. The pandemic is not over nationally or internationally, “so the economy continues to feel the pressure.”

According to the department, oil and gas was the only major sector with significantly fewer jobs last month than a year ago. The 6,200 jobs reported last month were 900 fewer than a year earlier and 3,800 fewer than in June 2019.

Wiebold said employment in oil and gas peaked in 2014, with an annual average of 14,800 jobs. As Alaska came through a recession set off by low oil prices that spanned between 2015 and 2018, the annual average for jobs in oil and gas was at 9,900, she said. Then the pandemic hit.

“At this point, it looks like we may have hit the floor, but time will tell,” she said of jobs in the sector.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska had about 17,000 more jobs last month than it did in June 2020, with most industries seeing gains over that period but still falling below pre-pandemic levels, a report released Friday by the state labor department shows.

The state had about 30,600 fewer jobs last month than in June 2019, according to the report.

Industries hard-hit during 2020 saw big gains in the new report, the department said. For example, there were 4,500 more jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than a year earlier and 4,200 more in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

However, there were 11,300 fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than in June 2019 and 6,300 fewer in trade, transportation and utilities, according to the report.

Health care employment and construction were up from June 2020 and equaled their June 2019 numbers. Manufacturing, which the department said is mainly seafood processing, had 1,200 more jobs last month than a year earlier and 100 fewer than in June 2019.

Whether Alaska is in a recession “is a natural question but not one that we are focused on,” said Karinne Wiebold, a state labor department economist, in an email.

The COVID-19 pandemic “was such a singular shock to the economy that the employment effects are really not like a traditional recession. It will take a while to see if the economy rebounds from the shock in a relatively short time after the pandemic has passed, or if employment remains depressed,” she wrote. The pandemic is not over nationally or internationally, “so the economy continues to feel the pressure.”

According to the department, oil and gas was the only major sector with significantly fewer jobs last month than a year ago. The 6,200 jobs reported last month were 900 fewer than a year earlier and 3,800 fewer than in June 2019.

Wiebold said employment in oil and gas peaked in 2014, with an annual average of 14,800 jobs. As Alaska came through a recession set off by low oil prices that spanned between 2015 and 2018, the annual average for jobs in oil and gas was at 9,900, she said. Then the pandemic hit.

“At this point, it looks like we may have hit the floor, but time will tell,” she said of jobs in the sector.

JUNEAU — Alaska had about 17,000 more jobs last month than it did in June 2020, with most industries seeing gains over that period but still falling below pre-pandemic levels, a report released Friday by the state labor department shows.

The state had about 30,600 fewer jobs last month than in June 2019, according to the report.

Industries hard-hit during 2020 saw big gains in the new report, the department said. For example, there were 4,500 more jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than a year earlier and 4,200 more in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

However, there were 11,300 fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality last month than in June 2019 and 6,300 fewer in trade, transportation and utilities, according to the report.

Health care employment and construction were up from June 2020 and equaled their June 2019 numbers. Manufacturing, which the department said is mainly seafood processing, had 1,200 more jobs last month than a year earlier and 100 fewer than in June 2019.

Whether Alaska is in a recession “is a natural question but not one that we are focused on,” said Karinne Wiebold, a state labor department economist, in an email.

The COVID-19 pandemic “was such a singular shock to the economy that the employment effects are really not like a traditional recession. It will take a while to see if the economy rebounds from the shock in a relatively short time after the pandemic has passed, or if employment remains depressed,” she wrote. The pandemic is not over nationally or internationally, “so the economy continues to feel the pressure.”

According to the department, oil and gas was the only major sector with significantly fewer jobs last month than a year ago. The 6,200 jobs reported last month were 900 fewer than a year earlier and 3,800 fewer than in June 2019.

Wiebold said employment in oil and gas peaked in 2014, with an annual average of 14,800 jobs. As Alaska came through a recession set off by low oil prices that spanned between 2015 and 2018, the annual average for jobs in oil and gas was at 9,900, she said. Then the pandemic hit.

“At this point, it looks like we may have hit the floor, but time will tell,” she said of jobs in the sector.

The TSA screened 58,330 more people on Thursday than the same day in 2019.

Thursday marked a major pandemic milestone — air travel exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time as people took to the skies for the July 4th holiday.

It’s a remarkable recovery from the height of the pandemic when fewer than 100,000 people were flying in the U.S. each day.

Domestic destinations like Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando are the most popular, according to the travel booking site Hopper. The Caribbean and Mexico are the most popular international destinations, according to Hopper economist Adit Damodarn.

“July 4th is the most searched weekend of summer 2021 thus far,” Damodarn said.

American Airlines is operating nearly 5,500 daily flights between Thursday and Monday, with the busiest travel days being Thursday and Friday, a spokesperson said.

United Airlines expects to fly 2 million customers from Thursday to Tuesday, with Thursday and Monday anticipated to be its busiest days. Delta Air Lines said approximately 2.2 million customers are expected to fly with the airline between Friday and Tuesday.

The busiest airports will be Chicago O’Hare, LAX, and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, according to Hopper. The busiest day to depart is Friday and the busiest day to return will be Monday.

“Travel is back,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told ABC News.

“July 1 is going to be the busiest day since COVID started, but it’ll only have that record for four days because July 5 is going to break it. It’s just another indication of how we really are on the road to recovery,” Kirby said.

TSA warned of staffing shortages at more than 100 airports last month and continues to ask for volunteers to help meet demand.

“Because of the fact that you know there are shortage and staffing, you know they’re going to be long lines, just be patient,” Everett Kelley, president of AFGE, the union that represents Transportation Security Officers, told ABC.

TSA has said it hopes to hire 6,000 new officers to handle the summer travel boost.

It has resorted to offering recruitment incentives such as $1,000 to officers who accept employment with the agency.

They say they are prepared to handle the increased traveler volume this weekend.



a group of people standing in front of a building: AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans will travel for the July Fourth weekend. Thomas Pallini/Insider


© Thomas Pallini/Insider
AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans will travel for the July Fourth weekend. Thomas Pallini/Insider

  • AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend.
  • The number of people traveling on airplanes has increased 164% compared to last year.
  • Hotel and car rental prices have increased as more people are gearing up to travel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 2 million people passed through TSA checkpoints on Thursday, nearly tripling the number of travelers compared to 2020 and topping 2019 figures for the first time since the pandemic began.

AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans will travel for the July Fourth weekend. 3.7 million of those people are expected to take to the skies increasing the number of travelers by 164% compared to last year.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” AAA said in a press release. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

There were 37 million people estimated to travel during Memorial Day weekend, 2.7 million of those travelers choosing to fly instead of drive, AAA reports.

Travelers going by air this weekend may want to brush up on the many ways they can enhance the flying experience with early check-ins, apps for easy airport navigation, and more.

Prices are up

Airfare prices have decreased by 2% compared to last year, but hotel prices have jumped more than 30%, AAA says. Hotels aren’t the only prices that have increased, AAA found that daily car rental prices have increased by 86% compared to July Fourth last year.

AAA estimates that 43.6 million Americans are expected to travel by car this holiday weekend. But gas prices are expected to be the most expensive since 2014, “with the national average likely to remain above $3 per gallon,” AAA says.

“Higher gas prices won’t deter road trippers this summer. In fact, we’re expecting record-breaking levels of car travel this July Fourth,” AAA said. “Though prices will remain above $3 a gallon, travelers are likely to look for more free activities or eat out less, but still take their vacations as planned.”

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The New Orleans metro area has regained 32,000 jobs since May 2020 to reach 524,400 jobs last month, but remains well behind the 587,500 jobs in May 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Louisiana had 1.8 million nonfarm jobs last month, 97,300 more jobs, or 5.5%, higher than in May 2020. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted and are from data compiled through surveys conducted in mid-May.

Trade, transportation and utilities dominated the eight-parish New Orleans metro area with 103,800 last month compared to 96,900 in May 2020, which is still down from 112,200 jobs in May 2019.

Education and health services, which includes private and charter school teachers, hit 102,100 jobs in May compared to 97,300 jobs when schools were largely virtual in May 2020. That sector has not rebounded to its pre-pandemic level of 103,500 jobs. Professional and business services had 70,800 jobs compared to 66,900 in May 2020, which lingers behind 76,600 workers in May 2019. 

The government sector, which includes public school teachers, was at 70,600 jobs last month, down from 71,300 in May 2020 and 75,300 in May 2019.

Financial activities had 28,800 jobs, down from 29,500 in May 2020 and 30,500 in May 2019. Construction is shrinking too, at 24,600 compared to 26,000 in May 2020 and 29,200 in May 2019. 

Leisure and hospitality had 64,300 jobs compared to 48,500 in May 2020, a far cry from 92,400 jobs in Mary 2019.

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Other services had 21,700 jobs in May, up from 18,300 in May 2020 but down from 24,600 in May 2019. Information, which includes the motion picture industry, was down to 5,700 jobs in May compared to 5,600 one year before and 8,900 in May 2019. Mining and logging, which includes oil and gas, hit 3,400 jobs compared to 3,800 jobs in May 2020 and 4,300 jobs before the pandemic in 2019. 

The New Orleans unemployment rate was 8.1%, down from 8.2% in April and 16.7% in May 2020. Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 6.7%, compared to 13.5% last year. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.5%, compared to 13% in May 2020.

BATON ROUGE: The capital region added back 23,500 jobs since May 2020, but all but one employment sector have not regained enough jobs to match the comparable month of May 2019. Government hit 76,900 compared to before the pandemic began in May 2019 with 76,400 jobs. The Baton Rouge unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 6%, compared to 12.4% in May 2020.

LAFAYETTE AREA: The Acadiana metro area added 7,800 jobs over the year to 191,700 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities was the largest employment sector in the region with 40,000 workers, up from 38,000 last year but shy of the 41,800 in May 2019. Education and health services accounted for 33,400 jobs, up from 30,700 jobs in May 2020 and topping May 2019’s 32,600 jobs. Leisure and hospitality had 19,700 jobs compared to 15,900 in May 2020, down still from