• Brits are working again, as new data shows the number of employees has returned to pre-pandemic levels
  • But the travel industry is bracing for a wave of redundancies once furlough support ends
  • JD Sports’ US expansion has paid off, as demand for sports fashion booms

UK labour market regains pre-pandemic strength

The UK jobs market is booming, but will the impending end to furlough temper its expansion?

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed another 241,000 employees were added to UK payrolls in August, taking the total number of people in work to 29.1m – a level last recorded in February 2020. Meanwhile the number of job vacancies during the three months to August reached 1.03m, breaching the 1m mark for the first time and around a quarter of a million higher than the number of vacancies between January and March 2020.

For those who have been holidaying in the UK over the summer and noticed the number of job ads in restaurant windows, it will come as little surprise that the sector which saw the biggest rise in vacancies was accommodation and food service. Vacancies here rose by 75 per cent, although the increase may drop as seasonal factors fall away. 

Those in work are still enjoying strong pay growth. Average pay was up 8.3 per cent in May to July, although the market is being distorted by a decline in low-paying jobs and sharp wage inflation in sectors where there are severe shortages of workers, such as haulage.

But the big question remains: what effect will the ending of furlough support later this month have on the jobs market? The ONS reported that more than 1m people were still being supported by the furlough scheme at the end of August. GD

Read more: 

Is there a national labour shortage?

What does the lorry driver shortage mean for supermarket earnings?

Save travel industry by ending harsh rules, says ABTA

When the government does withdraw coronavirus job support, travel companies are likely to be hit harder than most. The UK’s leading travel agency body warned today that the industry faces a wave of redundancies when the furlough scheme ends later this month.

The Association of British Travel Agents argued the government should kill its current traffic light system, maintaining only a red list for the highest risk destinations. It also called for the end of expensive PCR testing for vaccinated travellers returning from “lower-risk countries”. New foreign holiday bookings this summer were down 83 per cent on 2019, ABTA said, while 58 per cent of holidays booked for July and August had to be postponed or cancelled. 

The government is reportedly considering changing testing requirements, and the traffic light system could end within weeks. But the industry is demanding action soon. On Monday, Heathrow Airport said that its August traffic figures were down 71 per cent compared to 2019, adding it had gone from being Europe’s busiest airport to only the 10th busiest. AH 

Further reading: 

EasyJet

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

Job vacancies in Britain climbed to a record in August, rising above 1 million for the first time, as the labor market continued its uneven recovery, according to data released Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics.

As Britain emerged from lockdowns the demand for workers has soared. Every sector is seeking more workers, with restaurants, bars, hotels and other accommodation and food businesses trying to hire the most over the summer.

It has helped push the unemployment rate down, to 4.6 percent, and has shrunk the number of people who are out of the work force.

Nearly a quarter of a million people were added to company payrolls in August, returning this part of the labor market (which doesn’t include the self-employed) to its prepandemic size, the statistics office said. But not every region had fully recovered. The number of employees was still down in London, in southeast England and in Scotland. And some of the workers on payroll were still receiving wage subsidies from the government’s furlough program.

The soaring vacancy rate has highlighted mismatches in the labor market. Even as people return to work, lots of businesses report they are struggling to hire. The staff they are looking for have either moved into different industries or left the country. And job seekers don’t have the right training or experience. Growth in the manufacturing sector has been hampered by the challenge of filling open positions. And businesses across Britain are running low on supplies because there are too few truck drivers.

Analysts predict that some of the gains in the labor market will be reversed when the furlough program ends this month, and employers can no longer rely on the government to top up staff wages up to 80 percent for the hours they don’t work. At the end of July, there were 484,000 employers with 1.6 million workers still on furlough. Layoffs are expected; a group representing the travel sector said more than two-thirds of businesses with staff on furlough expect to cut jobs when the program ends.

“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,” Nye Cominetti, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, a think tank studying living standards, wrote in a note.

Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the end of the furlough program would increase unemployment and underemployment, as people can’t find as much work as they would like, despite the high number of vacancies.

“About 60 percent of staff on furlough are attached to small businesses employing fewer than 20 people, who are unlikely to have the financial strength to re-employ them for all their pre-Covid hours,” he wrote in a note to clients. Businesses with high vacancies are different from the ones using the furlough program, so people will need to retrain before they return to employment, he added, predicting that the unemployment

The US economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday.

Jobs, jobs, everywhere.

That’s what the latest snapshot of the United States labour market is telling us. The world’s largest economy had a record 10.9 million job openings on the last day of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said on Wednesday. That marked an increase of 749,000 job openings from the previous month – which was also a record.

In a sign of how confident people feel about their employment prospects, some four million Americans quit their jobs in July – roughly level pegging with the previous month.

While that may be awesome news for workers pounding the pavements in search of gainful employment, it is not necessarily great for the economy as a whole.

Why? Because jobs are only created when someone is actually hired. And robust jobs creation is the hallmark of a robust economic recovery.

In August, the US economy added 235,000 jobs – a bitter disappointment that marked the slowest pace of monthly non-farm payrolls added since January.

The economy is still 5.3 million jobs shy of regaining its pre-pandemic level from February 2020. And that shortfall doesn’t even account for growth in the economy or labour force since then, which means the hole is even deeper than the number suggests.

The Delta drag

Many analysts primarily blamed the slowing pace of jobs creation in August on a surge in COVID-19 infections linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. As evidence, they pointed to the sharp slowdown of new jobs added in the leisure and hospitality sector – hotels, restaurants and other businesses that engage in face-to-face customer services.

Leisure and hospitality businesses have reported difficulties hiring enough workers over the summer. Some analysts attribute the number of jobs going begging to businesses opening en masse and all vying for the same workers. Other possible reasons cited include an ongoing lack of childcare options, older workers opting to retire early, fear of contracting COVID-19 and enhanced federal jobless benefits giving unemployed workers more breathing room to switch up how they make a living.

Federal job benefits, including the sometimes controversial $300-a-week federal top-up to state unemployment benefits, expired this week. That will put to the test claims by politicians and others that federal unemployment benefits were the primary culprit keeping jobless workers on the sidelines.

Looking ahead

While COVID-19 infections are weighing on the US recovery, along with bottlenecks for raw materials and labour, the nation’s economic recovery is still on track.

Many analysts, though, are lowering their outlook for economic growth.

“Signs that Covid infections may be cresting should prevent the labor market recovery from going into reverse and ensure that consumer spending maintains moderate momentum into 2022,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note on Wednesday. He added that his firm has trimmed its 2021 gross domestic product growth forecast by 0.6

In July, the number of jobs available in the United States climbed to 10.9 million, a new record high, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

Health care and social assistance added the most positions, followed by finance and insurance, as well as hotels and restaurants.

America’s tight labor market continues to face a staggering disconnect between the number of jobs available and the number of people out of work.

Even as managers across the board are looking for workers, the number of hires stood at just 6.7 million in July.

While companies are ramping up efforts to rehire staff to meet demand and reopen fully, workers remain worried about the virus risk and child care availability. The generous pandemic-era jobless benefits, along with the sheer number of jobs available, also create conditions in which workers can afford to wait for a better job rather taking the first one that comes along.

But now the Delta variant is threatening to exacerbate the mismatch.

In August, the economy added just 235,000 jobs, far fewer than economists had expected. Restaurants and bars even lost jobs as rising Covid-19 cases are on the rise due to the more infectious Delta variant.

But the BLS report on job openings lags the government’s monthly jobs tally. So it will take a little longer until the full scale of Delta’s impact on this summer will become clear.

The job openings report “provides a different picture of the labor market … but it is decidedly a bit out of date as fast-changing as the recovery and pandemic has been the last year and a half,” said Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute.

What Wednesday’s report can tell us is this: “Demand for workers was still growing before the Delta variant impacted the US economy,” said Nick Bunker, director of research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, in emailed comments.

America’s leisure and hospitality industry bore the brunt of the pandemic job losses, but its recovery was also rampant. This was still true in July, when particularly hotels and restaurants added job openings.

“The big uncertainty is how much of a blow did the latest surge in the pandemic deal to demand,” Bunker added.

MADISON- On September 23, Landon Lee will turn 10 years of age. The fourth grade student-athlete is already making a name for himself among the world of youth baseball as he was selected to represent Alabama in the 10U National All-State Select Championships scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Marietta, Ga.

The son of Brandon and Melissa Lee and a student at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy, Landon has played for the Knights South travel team and has skipped around the Southeast playing games throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as a pitcher and first baseman. Playing in the upcoming prestigious tournament is full of excitement and high expectations.

“I feel good about being named to the team and I was a little surprised as I knew there were other good players that could be chosen,” said Landon.

The 5-foot-2 youngster was invited to participate in the 2021 Perfect Game Alabama All-Star Games in Hoover where the three-day event featured skills competition on the first day with games being played the remaining two days. His fastball was clocked at 55 miles per hour and his hitting and fielding talents were assessed by Perfect Game coaches. Three weeks later, his official invitation arrived inviting him to the elite event in the Peach State on a 14-player squad.

“I have fun playing baseball and like the competitive part of game,” said Landon. “On pitcher’s mound I concentrate on my mechanics so I can pitch well. I have a good fastball and a changeup and I’m working on a cutter. At first base, I concentrate on catching the ball and use my height to stretch my body to catch the ball. At the plate, I have base hits and some homeruns while batting fourth in the lineup.”

Landon checked into baseball at age four and soon was named an All-Star in the 6U division as part of the Madison Baseball Association at Palmer Park. He transferred to travel ball a season later and currently hangs his cleats among the 10U Knights South, which includes five players from Madison among its roster. Landon is regarded as possibly the best player on the team.

“My goal is one day play in Major League Baseball for my favorite team the Atlanta Braves,” said Landon. “I practice a lot along with taking hitting and pitching lessons. I sometimes bring a friend over to my house for pitching practice as I have a pitcher’s mound in the backyard.”

Travels for sports is also part of the Lee family in a secondary way as Landon’s eight-year old sister also plays travel softball.

A straight A student in the classroom, Landon is also a strong student of the game. He watches Major League games on television and he and his parents have attended numerous Trash Pandas games at Toyota Field. Studying the game and listening to coaching has made him a solid hitter, a consistent fielder in the field and an accurate pitcher. All of those athletic skills have led him to be

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Dismal August jobs report calms taper fears

* Leisure, retail employment disappoint; cruise liners slump

* Banking stocks slide, shrug off jump in bond yields (Recasts, updates prices to close)

Sept 3 (Reuters) – The Nasdaq closed Friday at a fresh record but Wall Street’s main indexes headed into the Labor Day weekend in mixed fashion, reacting to a disappointing U.S. jobs report which raised fears about the pace of economic recovery but weakened the argument for near-term tapering.

A majority of the 11 S&P sectors ended lower, with the energy and financial indexes among those finishing in the red.

Banking stocks, which generally perform better when bond yields are higher, dropped even as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped following the report.

“The number’s a big disappointment and it’s clear the Delta variant had a negative impact on the labor economy this summer,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

“You can tell because leisure and hospitality didn’t add any jobs and retail actually lost jobs. Investors will conclude that perhaps this will put the (Federal Reserve) further on hold in terms of the timing of tapering. Markets may be okay with that.”

Among the biggest decliners on the S&P 500 were cruise ship operators, including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises, whose businesses are highly susceptible to consumer sentiment around travel and COVID-19.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had scaled all-time highs over the past few weeks on support from robust corporate earnings, but investors have remained generally cautious as they watch economic indicators and the jump in U.S. infections to see how that might influence the Fed and its tapering plans.

The labor market remains the key touchstone for the Fed, with Chair Jerome Powell hinting last week that reaching full employment was a pre-requisite for the central bank to start paring back its asset purchases.

On Friday, the Labor Department’s closely watched report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs in August, widely missing economists’ estimate of 750,000. Payrolls had surged 1.05 million in July.

Despite a number well outside the consensus estimate, the overall reaction of investors was muted, continuing a trend over the last year of a decoupling of significant S&P movement in the wake of a wide miss on the payrolls report.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 74.47 points, or 0.21%, to 35,369.35, the S&P 500 lost 1.41 points, or 0.03%, to 4,535.54 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.34 points, or 0.21%, to 15,363.52.

The Nasdaq, registering a fifth daily gain in the last six sessions, was boosted by technology heavyweights, including Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook. Tech stocks tend to perform better in a low interest-rate environment.

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Global gained after a media report that the city of Beijing was considering moves that would give

  • Dismal August jobs report calms taper fears
  • Leisure, retail employment disappoint; cruise liners slump
  • Banking stocks slide, shrug off jump in bond yields
  • Indexes: Dow slips 0.21%, S&P down 0.03%, Nasdaq gains 0.21%
  • For the week: Dow slips 0.2%, S&P up 0.6%, Nasdaq 1.6% higher

Sept 3 (Reuters) – The Nasdaq ended Friday at a new peak but the other main Wall Street indexes fell, reflecting the mixed sentiment stemming from a disappointing U.S. jobs report which raised fears about the pace of economic recovery but weakened the argument for near-term tapering.

On the final day of trading before the Labor Day weekend, both the S&P 500 and Dow benchmark posted marginal declines, tempering the former’s positive weekly performance and extending the latter’s run of losses to four in the last five sessions.

For the Nasdaq though, registering a fifth win in the last six sessions and a weekly gain of 1.6%, investors’ support of heavyweight technology stocks – which tend to perform better in a low interest-rate environment – continues to drive it higher.

Apple (AAPL.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O), and Facebook (FB.O) all rose between 0.3% and 0.4%.

“Tech has become bullet-proof,” said Mike Mullaney, director of global market research at Boston Partners.

“It’s the anti-COVID sector, where you want to be if you think COVID or a lack of growth is going to be an issue.”

The virus, and its impact on the pace of economic recovery, was evident in the Labor Department’s closely-watched report which showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs in August, widely missing economists’ estimate of 750,000. Payrolls had surged 1.05 million in July. read more

“The number’s a big disappointment and it’s clear the Delta variant had a negative impact on the labor economy this summer,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

“You can tell because leisure and hospitality didn’t add any jobs and retail actually lost jobs. Investors will conclude that perhaps this will put the (Federal Reserve) further on hold in terms of the timing of tapering. Markets may be okay with that.”

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had scaled all-time highs over the past few weeks on support from robust corporate earnings, but investors have remained generally cautious as they watch economic indicators and the jump in U.S. infections to see how that might influence the Fed and its tapering plans.

A person waits on the Wall Street subway platform in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The labor market remains the key touchstone for the Fed, with Chair Jerome Powell hinting last week that reaching full employment was a pre-requisite for the central bank to start paring back its asset purchases.

Among the biggest decliners on the S&P 500 were cruise ship operators, whose businesses are highly susceptible to consumer sentiment around travel and COVID-19. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH.N), Carnival Corp (CCL.N) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL.N) all fell between 3.4% and 4.4%.

The major U.S. equity indexes rose Thursday and the S&P 500 set a new record closing high as energy and travel stocks bounced back ahead of a key labor market report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 271.58 points, or nearly 0.8%, to close at 35,064.25. The S&P 500 added 0.6% to finish at a new all-time high of 4,429.10, while the Nasdaq Composite rose about 0.8% to 14,895.12. The moves in the stocks came after a mostly lower regular session on Wednesday, in which the Dow dropped more than 300 points.

Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 385,000 on Thursday, in-line with expectations. The claims data was the last reading before the key July jobs report, which will be released on Friday morning. There is a wide range of estimates from economists about what the report will show, and some metrics for employment gains have disappointed despite a high level of reported job openings.

The jobs report is expected to be a key data point for the Federal Reserve as it considers when to tighten monetary policy.

“That’s going to be the big event for the week as it has a lot of direct implications for what the Fed will do. Tomorrow’s reading and the September one are critical for policymakers to decide on tapering and the timing of that and the pace of that,” said Angelo Kourkafas, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

The results of an ADP private payroll survey released Wednesday showed a gain of 330,000 jobs for July, well short of the consensus estimate of 653,000. Kourkafas said that the ADP miss showed that there was downside risk to Friday’s report. Economists expect the reading will show the U.S. added 845,000 in non-farm payrolls in July, about even with the previous month, according to Dow Jones estimates.

Travel stocks, including airlines, bounced on Thursday after struggling over the past week amid the spread of the delta variant of Covid 19. American Airlines rose 7.5%, while casino stock Caesars Entertainment jumped 6.4%.

“It’s nice to have a day where we’re seeing a rebound in reopen and travel. They’ve just gotten nailed every which way from Sunday,” said Stephanie Link, chief investment strategist and portfolio manager at Hightower Advisors.

Energy stocks also performed well. Shares of ConocoPhillips closed 1.8% higher. Dow component Chevron climbed 0.9%.

The 10-year Treasury yield topped 1.2% on Thursday, continuing a volatile stretch of trading for the benchmark measure. The yield briefly dipped below 1.13% on Wednesday before bouncing back in late morning trading.

Shares of Roku dropped roughly 4% after the company issued quarterly results on Wednesday and reported a slowdown in streaming TV viewing. Etsy fell 9.7% after the company gave guidance for the current quarter that indicated the pandemic-fueled commerce boom may be coming to an end.

However, earnings season has been strong overall. Goldman Sachs raised its year-end target for the S&P 500 to 4,700, representing 7% upside, in part due to an improving earnings outlook.

During regular

More than nine million Americans said in May that they wanted jobs and couldn’t find them. Companies said they had more than nine million jobs open that weren’t filled, a record high.

As the economy reopens, the process of matching laid-off workers to jobs is proving to be slow and complicated, a contrast to the swift and decisive layoffs that followed the initial stage of the pandemic in early 2020.

The disconnect helps to explain why so many companies are complaining about having trouble filling open positions so early in a recovery. It also helps to explain why wages are rising briskly even when the unemployment rate, at 5.9% in June, is well above the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%. The relatively high jobless rate suggests an excess of labor supply that in theory should hold wages down.

This has implications for policy makers: Sand in the wheels of the labor market could cause inflation pressures that spur Federal Reserve policy makers to pull back on low interest rate policies meant to support growth. In the longer-run, on the other hand, the slow matching process could have benefits, leaving workers in jobs they prefer and the economy more efficient.

Several factors are behind the development: Many workers moved during the pandemic and aren’t where jobs are available; many have changed their preferences, for instance pursuing remote work, having discovered the benefits of life with no commute; the economy itself shifted, leading to jobs in industries such as warehousing that aren’t in places where workers live or suit the skills they have; extended unemployment benefits and relief checks, meantime, are giving workers time to be choosy in their search for the next job.