LONDON (AP) — The number of people on payroll in the U.K. has soared back to levels last seen before the coronavirus pandemic struck a year and a half ago, official figures showed Tuesday in the latest clear signal that the lifting of lockdown restrictions has prompted businesses to ramp up hiring.

The Office for National Statistics said that payroll numbers rose by 241,000 between July and August to 29.1 million. The total is now 1,000 higher than it was the month before the pandemic struck in March 2020.

The statistics agency also said that vacancy numbers increased by 249,000 in the three months to August to more than 1 million for the first time since records began in 2001 amid labor shortages in industries such as accommodation and food services that are partly related to the pandemic but also because of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

It also found that the the overall rate of unemployment dropped by 0.3 percentage point in July to 4.6% while the employment rate ticked up by 0.5 percentage point to 75.2%.

Overall, the figures point to the positive impact of the lifting of restrictions over the past few months and the rebound in confidence following the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines across the U.K.

National statistician Jonathan Athow cautioned that the jobs recovery isn’t even and that “in hard-hit areas such as London, and sectors such as hospitality and arts and leisure, the numbers of workers remain well down on pre-pandemic levels.”

There’s also unease as to what will happen in the labor market over the coming months as the government’s salary support program, which has kept a lid on unemployment during the pandemic, comes to an end.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is set to end at the end of September, saw the government pay 80% of the salaries of those workers unable to work because of lockdown measures. The program helped support around 12 million people at its height. But the number has been falling as lockdown restrictions were lifted and now stands at around 1.6 million.

“With the furlough scheme ending in little over two weeks’ time, we should expect a fresh rise in unemployment this autumn, particularly among furloughed staff that aren’t able to return to their previous jobs,” said Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank.

Unions are urging the government to come up with new support, particularly for sectors like aviation which are still struggling in the face of restrictions.

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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.

Last month, the economy showed signs of solid job growth, adding 943,000 jobs to the labor force in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This brings the overall unemployment rate down to 5.4%, lower than the 5.7% rate economists had predicted.

Of the 943,000 jobs added, 68.8% went to women, marking the largest one-month increase in women’s job growth since August 2020, reports the National Women’s Law Center. With women disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the NWLC estimates that women need nearly five straight months of July’s job gains to return to where they were before the pandemic.

“I think this was a blockbuster month, having nearly one million jobs added,” Jasmine Tucker, NWLC’s director of research, tells CNBC Make It. While it’s good to “celebrate all those gains,” Tucker says she’s unsure about whether we will see similar growth in the coming months due to mask mandates and other restrictions being reinstated because of the delta variant.

“I think next month we could see something completely different based on what’s happening right now,” she says, while emphasizing that “it will be interesting to see what happens with parents” as the school year starts back up.

When looking at the overall jobs report for July, women accounted for 53.9% of the job gains in the leisure and hospitality industry, 91.3% of the job gains in government and all of the job gains in the education and health services sector, according to NWLC’s analysis.

“So, there’s sort of a mixed bag there,” says Tucker. “We tend to think of government jobs as more well-paid jobs with benefits. But, when you think about leisure and hospitality, I think a lot of those are low-quality jobs where people don’t have access to great scheduling, the wages are lower and they don’t always have access to benefits.”

While leisure and hospitality jobs — including those in restaurants, hotels and other service sectors — tend to help drive the economy, data indicates that workers in these roles could also be impacted the most if restrictions are reinstated that limit dining out, traveling and leisure activities.

When peeling back the layers of the jobs report, Tucker says you will also see that not all workers are having an equal recovery. While a total of 140,000 men and women rejoined the labor force last month, NWLC reports that 65,000 Black women and 51,000 Latinas left in July.

“We saw a lot of the unemployment numbers come down, which I think signals some good signs as people have come back to the labor force,” explains Tucker. “But for Black women and Latinas, whose unemployment rates also went down, they had large numbers of people leaving the labor force and that’s probably what drove their [unemployment] drop because those people are no longer counted among the unemployed since they aren’t looking for work.”

In July, the overall unemployment rate for women ages 20 and over decreased to 5% from 5.5% in June. The overall unemployment

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.

Michigan’s June job numbers are out, but there’s not much to boast about.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5% and has hovered between 4.9% and 5.2% since February. It is lower than the national rate, however, which was 5.9% for June.

“Michigan’s labor market indicators were little changed in June,” said Wayne Rourke, from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, in a news release.

Jobs growth has been mostly stagnant, with employers reporting 14,000 more nonfarm payroll jobs in June compared to May, using seasonally adjusted data. More than half the gains came from the leisure and hospitality field and government jobs.

RELATED: Labor shortage poses biggest question for Michigan summer travel as restrictions lift

While Michigan has added jobs since February, it’s on par with how many jobs Michigan normally adds during the spring and summer months. That’s why non-seasonally adjusted data shows a 142,000-job increase between February and June, while seasonally-adjusted numbers are mostly flat.

Michigan had an estimated 4.2 million nonfarm payroll jobs in June. It typically has nearly 4.5 million jobs in June, in recent pre-pandemic years.

Michigan was also 300,000 jobs shy of its normal February totals this February.

Leisure, hospitality jobs see biggest swing

Jobs in hotels, restaurants and similar areas have seen the largest rebound of any industry in the past 12 months, up 22%. Yet, the industry still lags well behind pre-pandemic numbers.

Leisure and hospitality averaged about 435,000 jobs in Michigan pre-pandemic, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. It dropped to 193,000 in April 2020, partially rebounded in the summer and dropped again during Michigan’s second dine-in ban last winter.

When restaurants reopened Feb. 1, jobs quickly rebounded to about 340,000 – but growth has stalled since then, with only seasonally expected gains.

Unemployment claims are dipping, however

The above numbers come from U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The feds also report the number of actual unemployment claims per week in each state.

For the first time since the pandemic started, Michigan is reporting fewer than 500,000 unemployment claims, for the week of June 26. Michigan averaged about 620,000 claims per week in June, compared to 750,000 per week in the four prior weeks.

About 85% of Michigan’s claims are for temporary federal benefits – not state dollars. Those benefits, offered in response to the pandemic, expire Sept. 4.

The peak came in May 2020, when Michigan had more than 3 million people claim unemployment in a single week.

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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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