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

This week expanded federal unemployment insurance benefits expired for millions of workers. For those in states that did not already end the $300 federal bonus and expansions of unemployment benefits to workers who would not traditionally receive them, this will mean an end to over a year of unearned income. Despite the fear-mongering that unemployed Americans will face financial ruin, there are reasons to believe that not only is this expiration overdue but that workers, especially women, will be better off for it and end up with benefits that exceed a monthly check.

Unemployed workers are entering a labor market that is much stronger than one year ago; one that gives workers more leverage to negotiate on their own terms.

There are a record-high 10.9 million open positions according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). During the month of July, the largest increases in job openings occurred in industries that tend to attract women. Health care and social assistance added 294,000 new jobs, and accommodation and food services added 115,000 positions. Although retail, a popular industry for female workers, added fewer new positions in July than it did in June, it still added far more new positions than months prior. For women, there is an added benefit to jobs in hospitality and retail industries: flexibility. Many hospitality workers choose this line of work because they can earn a living around their own schedule. It allows them to balance employment with other responsibilities such as raising children, caregiving for sick or aging relatives and even starting their own businesses.

With ample positions waiting to be occupied, workers have greater choices among positions and more leverage in negotiating with future employers to secure the employment situation that meets their needs.

Workers will also find that wages are generally higher than when they left the jobs market last year. The recent August jobs report may have delivered a disappointing 235,000 total jobs created, but it did have positive news for workers: Wages continue to rise at a fast pace. Average hourly and weekly earnings both increased by 4.3 percent from one year prior. Wages in leisure and hospitality jumped 10.3 percent over the year.

These wage increases are critical to low-income workers who are losing more of their paychecks to inflation. Everything from bread to diapers to gas is more costly today than a year ago, so while a pay increase is a welcome benefit of rejoining the workforce, rising inflation will eat away at those gains. The double-edged sword of rising wages is that it is contributing to inflation. When employers raise pay to attract workers, they pass those increased labor costs along to customers. This vicious cycle will continue until workers rejoin the labor force.

Workers, especially those at the lower end of the income ladder, know that their labor is more valuable and are raising their expectations for how much they should be paid. According to a survey released this week by the New York

As has been well reported, the era of enhanced unemployment benefits for victims of the pandemic ended abruptly on Sept. 6.

That was the expiration date of two federal programs, which provided an additional $300 a week in benefits on top of state-funded unemployment and extended the payments to workers not commonly entitled to unemployment coverage, such as gig workers and the self-employed.

The expiration affected about 9 million workers and their households. The Biden administration chose not to fight to extend them.

We don’t have a work ethic problem, but a care infrastructure and healthcare risk problem.

Rebecca Dixon, National Employment Law Project

Its reasoning is that, with the economy recovering from the pandemic, other parts of the safety net — including a permanently expanded food stamp program and a child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child over the next year — would shore up family finances enough to cover the expirations.

But that’s a simplistic picture of a complicated landscape. To begin with, all unemployed people are not alike. Millions of workers have returned to steady jobs, but huge pockets of unemployment remain, due in part to low pay and circumstances that can keep people out of the labor market even if they want to return.

Employers and some politicians have portrayed the continued unemployment in sectors that have high demand for workers thanks to signs of a post-pandemic recovery — such as retailing and leisure and hospitality — as the product of worker laziness and excessive unemployment benefits. But they often fail to confront the truth that their jobs simply aren’t alluring.

Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, says it’s struggling to fill 10,000 job openings at its 600 U.S. hotels. But its CEO, Tony Capuano, acknowledged in an interview with the Financial Times that his industry’s reputation for low-paid, dead-end jobs had hampered recruiting.

“We’ve got to do a consistent job of sharing the narrative that it is in fact an industry segment where incredible careers can be built,” Capuano told the FT.

The narrative that good jobs are available for the asking also overlooks all the residual reasons that millions of workers can’t return.

“We don’t have a work ethic problem, but a care infrastructure and healthcare risk problem,” says Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

“Many child-care centers closed and haven’t reopened, so there’s not affordable, accessible child care, and we have folks with complex medical needs,” Dixon says. “If your children are under 12, they can’t be vaccinated. If you have an immunosuppressed person in your household, you’re worried about bringing COVID home.”

What seemed to be a strong jobs recovery this summer hit a pothole in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when jobs increased by an unexpectedly meager

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The federal unemployment benefits gave those who qualified an extra $300 a week.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott cut off federal assistance payments in Texas on June 26th.

Only those not traditionally eligible for unemployment, including part-time workers, self-employed and gig workers were still eligible for benefits, but those ended Monday.

So, have local businesses seen a boost in business since the benefits ended in June?

The Pointe Bar and Grill in downtown Corpus Christi says it has hired five new employees since late June.

Owner, Francisco Cancio says he’s felt the difference between what business was like five to six weeks ago until now.

As people submit their applications, Cancio says there’s an ongoing issue in the food industry.

“With the benefits being cut off, people need to start getting back to their regular and income and routine that they have but with the virus still going on at the moment they come back to work and they get sick so they kind of have to lay off of work again,” he says.

The Texas Workforce Commission says the extra unemployment benefits were cut off because the state’s unemployment rate fell below 6.5% and right now, it reports nearly 76&. of posted jobs in the state are paying more than $11.50 an hour and only 2% of jobs pay around minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

One Pointe Bar and Grill employee says the type of job he is working is more important than how much he is making.

The most recent numbers show July’s unemployment rate in Texas was 6.2%, but Corpus Christi was higher at 7.5%.

There are several job openings in the leisure and hospitality industry, click here.

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Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over Labor Day weekend, the federal government ended its so-called enhanced-unemployment-benefits program, reaching the dreaded “benefits cliff.” The benefits, unusually generous by the standards of this country, staved off evictions and allowed many people to hold off on returning to jobs they may have felt were unsafe or were otherwise undesirable. Already, some restaurateurs are excitedly telling the New York Post that this could mean, at long last, the end of their ongoing staffing woes.

One, Jeremy Merrin of the Cuban chain Havana Central, tells the tabloid, “It’s unbelievable there are so many people claiming unemployment and everyone I know in the restaurant industry can’t find enough staff.” Restaurateur Stephen Starr rehashes a familiar talking point, saying that “logically, it makes sense that once unemployment benefits stop, more people will apply for jobs.”

This is a tired argument against a necessary social safety net, repeated ad nauseam by some business owners and the pro-business camp. As Adam Chandler wrote in the Washington Post in May, “Study after study has debunked the myth that the emergency benefits and occasional payments provided by the government are disincentivizing people from returning to the labor force en masse.” (Not to mention the fact that the benefits alone weren’t necessarily enough for people, especially those with families, to get by.)

So it is not surprising that last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that states that ended enhanced unemployment benefits early have not seen any difference in job growth. And last month’s job report was, as CNBC put it, “a huge disappointment” and the worst since January. Just 235,000 jobs were added, compared to an expected 720,000. Job growth in leisure and hospitality stalled after leading the economy for the past six months. In large part, the stalled growth has been pinned on the Delta surge, which Reuters wrote has “reduced demand for travel and entertainment.”

Even in my own conversations with business owners who bemoan the very existence of these unemployment benefits, it hasn’t been difficult to get them to admit that there are in fact other reasons why they’re having trouble hiring staff (such as old staff moving out of the city or country!).

For restaurant and bar workers specifically, money is one concern, but it is not the only one. Workers who spoke about leaving the industry cited the lack of stability and work environments in an industry in which abusive behavior is endemic. Others cited the absence of benefits like health insurance and paid time off as well as the power imbalance with both employers and customers. Many hospitality workers know people who died or got severely sick. Additionally, their employers didn’t necessarily do anything to make them feel secure or taken care of. Meanwhile, some people have simply moved on to other careers they had always wanted to pursue, started their own businesses, returned to school, or are carving out their own space in the restaurant and bar industry. The end of unemployment

More than 9 million Americans are set to lose their unemployment benefits and millions more will see their weekly incomes plummet as a host of federal pandemic jobless aid programs expire next week.

Three programs covering a combined 12.1 million people will end on Monday without action from the White House or Congress.

Twenty-six states pulled out of at least some of those programs earlier this summer as businesses struggled to fill a record-breaking 9 million job openings.

But there are still 5.4 million gig workers, contractors and others not covered by traditional unemployment insurance who will lose their weekly benefits early next week. Another 3.9 million Americans receiving extended aid will see those payments disappear on Monday as well.

And a separate 3.9 million Americans will no longer receive a $300 weekly supplement to other job aid programs, leaving them with substantially less money.

On top of that, the August jobs report released on Friday showed a significant slowdown in the rate of hiring, indicating a tougher job market in September.

President BidenJoe BidenElder pledges to replace Feinstein with Republican if he wins California recall election Overnight Defense & National Security — Out of Afghanistan, but stuck in limbo On The Money — Delta variant wallops job market MORE, moderate Democratic lawmakers and virtually all Republicans have argued that it’s time for the additional support to expire after several months of rapid job growth, up until August, and inflation lingering at uncomfortable heights. Recent studies have also shown a noticeable uptick in job growth in states that pulled out of those unemployment insurance (UI) programs but with limited impact on labor force participation.

“The question is, is expanded UI substantially holding back job growth? And I do think that it is,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

“I think that the end of UI expansion will accelerate job growth and get people back to work, but it won’t end the economic damages from the pandemic,” he added.

While economists have quarreled for months over how much the federal programs have held back job gains, they widely agree that it’s not the only factor keeping potential workers on the sidelines. Roughly 5.6 million Americans said they were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic, and another 1.5 million said they weren’t even able to look for a job because of a pandemic-related restraint, according to the August jobs report released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The steep plunge in last month’s job gains, driven almost entirely by surging COVID-19 cases, has also raised alarms among those who see little benefit to pulling back aid.

“It’s not because we’re seeing some sort of change in how people are doing. These benefits are expiring now because they are tied to an arbitrary political deadline,” said Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive economic research and activism nonprofit.

“The fact that we are collectively choosing to play with people’s lives

People line up outside a newly reopened career center for in-person appointments in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Amira Karaoud

Sept 3 (Reuters) – Attaining its goal of maximum employment has always been a tall order for the Federal Reserve but broadening the scope of that objective to one that is also “broad and inclusive” has made the task tougher still, with Friday’s payrolls report standing as a case in point.

Job gains in August were far more meager than expected largely due to the surge in coronavirus cases. And even though the unemployment rate fell to a pandemic-era low of 5.2%, it did not drop for everyone. The jobless rate rose for Blacks – to 8.8% from 8.2% – and they were the only major racial demographic group to see an increase.

That figure on its own creates tough optics for the Fed as it approaches a consequential meeting this month, especially as other data from the Labor Department suggest the Black employment recovery from last year’s recession continues to progress – by some measures more so than for whites.

Reuters Graphics

Black workers continued to notch strong gains in employment and in the labor force participation rate this year, while it appears improvements may be moderating for white workers.

For example, the share of Black people who are either working or looking for jobs, or the labor force participation rate, rose in August to 61.6% and is now equal to the participation rate for white workers – a metric where Black workers have historically lagged.

And the share of Black people who were employed in August, known as the employment to population ratio, reached 56.2%, up from 54.7% in January. This was slightly more than the gains seen for white workers. “That’s an unambiguous improvement” for Black workers, Nick Bunker, an economist with Indeed Hiring Lab said in an email.

At 58.8%, the employment to population ratio for white workers is up from 57.9% in January.

Still, the trends in the unemployment rate are much less straightforward. After last month’s increase, the jobless rate for Black workers is still at crisis-era levels and is down just 0.4 percentage points from the start of the year. The unemployment rate for white workers, at 4.5%, is below the national unemployment rate and down by 1.2 percentage points from January.

“Where that rise in unemployment came from is up for debate,” said Bunker, noting it could have been driven by a rise in Black people trying to find work but not succeeding, or by an increase in the number of Black people who became unemployed.

Policymakers will need to watch what happens in the coming months as the U.S. labor market works through the effects of multiple shifts, including cuts to unemployment benefits, the Delta variant’s drag on spending and travel and persistent challenges with childcare and schooling.

If the slowdown in hiring persists, that may not bode well for Black workers, which often face the deepest losses during downturns

Employers added 235,000 jobs in August, far below expectations of 720,000 new hires, and the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 5.2%, the Department of Labor said Friday.

The fresh labor market data comes as the spread of the more contagious delta variant has throttled the pace of the recovery. The latest figure is a steep fall from the approximately 1 million jobs that were added in both June and July.

Despite the dismal top-line numbers, some labor economists see glimmers of hope in the continued job gains despite virus cases increasing sharply across the country.

“COVID cases surged more than fourfold between July and August and hospitals have reached capacity in parts of the country,” Julia Pollak, the chief labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told ABC News. “The last time that happened there was a very, very enormous and precipitous labor market effect — a very negative effect — and this time around, despite such a huge surge, we’ve actually seen the job market continue to make progress.”

Pollak also called the report “encouraging.”

“The labor market, rather than really stalling or going into reverse, has actually continued to recover,” she said. “The main COVID delta effects here are a slowdown in those face-to-face service industries, in retail and in restaurants particularly, but elsewhere, the labor market is looking strong.”

So far this year, job growth has averaged 586,000 jobs per month, the DOL said. While employment has risen by some 17 million since April 2020, the economy is still down about 5.3 million jobs from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 — when the unemployment rate was at a historic low of 3.5% prior to COVID-19 walloping the labor market.

Notable job gains last month occurred in professional and business services (which saw an uptick of 74,000 jobs), transportation and warehousing (which saw a rise of 53,000 jobs), private education (which saw an increase of 40,000 jobs), and manufacturing (which added 37,000 jobs).

Employment in retail trade declined by 29,000 jobs in August, likely a reflection of the virus resurgence, with major losses in food and beverage stores (where 23,000 jobs were lost).

Leisure and hospitality employment was unchanged in August, the DOL said, after back-to-back gains the previous months. Employment in leisure and hospitality is still down by 1.7 million jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The latest data continues to reflect the uneven impact of the COVID-19 downturn. The unemployment rate for white workers was 4.5% in August, compared to 8.8% for Black workers, 6.4% for Hispanic workers and 4.6% for Asian workers.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) fell in August to 3.2

Darius Miller isn’t picky.

The 21-year-old Poughkeepsie resident graduated from Poughkeepsie High School last year, but he held off on the job search due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last month, Miller took the bus to the Poughkeepsie Galleria for a job fair. With roughly 20 employers present, ranging from Galleria businesses to major local employers and regional employment agencies, he was determined to find something.

“I’m not looking for any specific job, and I am willing to work any position,” he said. 

And positions are available for those qualified and looking for work. Amy Van Tassel, industrial staffing division manager with Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions, said the region has a job-seeker’s market. There is an abundance of positions, and businesses need to compete to attract staff.

“Everybody is desperate for people,” she said. “If you’re looking for work and think you have one or two of the qualities for the position you’re applying for, just apply because chances are you’re going to get a call.” 

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After COVID-19 devastated the local and national job market in 2020, the region appears to be bouncing back to something akin to pre-pandemic norms.

The Mid Hudson Valley has seen job growth in most sectors.

But employers say they are having difficulty filling positions. While that has resulted in staffing shortages for some in health care and technology – Dutchess County’s largest employment fields – it’s having a dire impact on smaller local businesses.

Some, after surviving the stress of COVID restrictions, have been forced reduce hours, close or sell their business due to an inability to fill skeleton staffs. Most of the restaurants and shops cannot offer employees much higher than minimum wage in order to maintain narrow profit margins.

“All I continue to hear is that they can’t find anybody, and that is probably a combination of the skills gap that existed prior to COVID and the fact that they may be able to pay their bills based on the aid and regulatory environment,” Hicks said.

Some employers have offered perks and sign-on bonuses to attract candidates. While that’s been the case for higher-level jobs for years, less-likely employers, such as Amazon at its impending warehouse in East Fishkill, have likewise been doing so in recent months. Several municipalities around the region offered sign-on bonuses last spring in order to remedy a widespread dearth of lifeguards.

A job fair held at the Poughkeepsie Galleria on August 12, 2021.

Nuvance Health, IBM, GlobalFoundries and MidHudson Regional Hospital are among Dutchess County’s largest employers, Hicks said. While each contributes to the local economy, the majority of their jobs require specialized skills, making finding suitable candidates difficult. The stress and challenges of the pandemic have also caused some to leave the health care field.

Another of the county’s largest employers, Gap, with its distribution center

There were record numbers of people on unemployment. And at the same time, employers struggled to find workers.

The solution was logical for 26 states – ax the extra $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits and more people will return to work. Most of the 26 also cut the federal unemployment programs that offered extra weeks of pay after people exhausted their state benefits.

Job searches in those states increased after they announced they were canceling benefits. Jobs started filling faster in May and June, too, before the benefits were actually cut in late June and early July.

But then came a reversal.

In June, for every 100 jobs gained in states that cut the $300, the other states gained 75 jobs, per capita. But in July, for every 100 jobs gained in the $300-ending states, the others gained 116 jobs.

All states will be on the same level after Sept. 4, when the extra $300 goes away. Federal aid like the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also ends, unless states decide to use their stimulus money to keep the programs going (Michigan plans not to).

State leaders hope the end of the programs will push more people back into work. Economists aren’t banking on it.

What turned the tables?

In June, six of the eight fastest-rebounding states were those that canceled the $300 benefit. Canceling states had 0.55% more jobs than the month prior, while other states only jumped 0.41%. There was a similar trend in May.

Canceling states still had a good July – with jobs growing 0.58%. But the states that still had unemployment leapfrogged them, growing 0.67%.

Now, seven of the eight fastest-growing states were those that didn’t cancel the $300. And all eight were still offering PUA and other federal unemployment programs.

(Can’t see the June chart? Click here.)

(Can’t see the July chart? Click here.)

“This is kind of what we thought would happen – it really wasn’t going to make that much of a difference,” said Brad Hershbein, senior economist with the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo. “It wasn’t the UI checks that was really causing people (to stay jobless).”

One theory to the trend is, the threat of benefits ending has a larger impact than the actual ending date. That would explain why benefit-cutting states saw their biggest swings in June and July – and why the other states saw a jump in July as the Sept. 4 deadline loomed.

Most of the benefit-cutting states are southern, Republican states that were less likely to have COVID-19 restrictions. As a group, they’re at 97.2% of the jobs they had pre-pandemic, compared to 94.2% for the other states.

July’s surge for the benefit-keeping states could be partly because they had more room to “catch up,” Hershbein said. Southern states already reopened most of their leisure and hospitality businesses in the spring, but the return didn’t happen until later for others.

Will Michigan see a surge of job seekers?

Republicans and