Job creation stumbled in August as the U.S. economy added the fewest number of new workers in seven months, an abrupt slowdown driven largely by a standstill in hiring at bars, restaurants and hotels.

The Labor Department said in its Friday report that employers added 235,000 jobs last month, sharply missing Wall Street’s expectations for a gain of 728,000. It marked a noticeable slowdown after solid gains of 1.1 million in July and 962,000 in June.

The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 5.2%.

BIDEN ADMIN URGES SOME STATES TO EXTEND EXTRA UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AHEAD OF DEADLINE

Leisure and hospitality, one of the industries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, dragged on job growth last month, with a net gain of zero. It’s a stunning turnabout for a sector that, for months, has accounted for the bulk of job creation each month. There are about 1.7 million fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic began. 

A closer look at the data shows that while hotels added 6,600 jobs in August, restaurants and bars slashed about 41,500 jobs. That was offset by a payroll gain of 36,000 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation.

Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.7 million, or 10%, since February 2020.

“The delta variant surge is the unsurprising story behind August’s big payroll miss,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. “Leisure and hospitality jobs, a proxy for economic reopening, were flat month over month. The good news is that we see promising signs Delta’s effect will wane in coming months and payrolls will resume growing at a fast clip.”

CONSUMER PRICES SURGE 5% ANNUALLY, MOST SINCE AUGUST 2008

Other industries also stumbled in August: Retail trade shed 28,500 jobs last month, with the bulk of those stemming from home and garden stores (-13,000), food and beverage stores (-23,200) and clothing stores (-4,000).

The government, meanwhile, was also a drain of job growth, cutting 8,000 positions. Those losses stemmed from state governments, which saw payroll shrink by 25,000. That was balanced out by the federal government, which added 3,000 jobs, and local government, which added 14,000.

Health care and social assistance eliminated 4,600 jobs, while construction lost 3,000 and utilities lost 1,300. 

The bulk of the job creation stemmed from professional and business services, which contributed 74,000 new positions last month. It was followed by gains in transportation and warehousing (53,200) and manufacturing (37,000).

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Education, meanwhile, added more than 40,000 jobs, reflecting the continued resumption of in-person learning and other school activities across the country.

Google said on Tuesday that it would delay reopening its offices until Jan. 10. The new date is a postponement from October, which was a postponement from September, which was a postponement from July, which was a postponement from January.

Companies including Amazon, Apple and Starbucks have rescheduled with similar frequency, and it’s becoming difficult to take new announcements about back-to-office plans seriously. The New York Times, Twitter and others have decided not to set a new date for reopening their offices.

These shifts, of course, reflect constantly changing circumstances during the pandemic. A batch of surveys captured how workplace practices and policies are changing, the DealBook newsletter reports.

On vaccine mandates:

Before the latest surge of coronavirus cases, few companies had announced vaccine mandates. But according to a survey released Wednesday, most companies now have plans to require that employees get vaccinated by the end of the year. Conducted by Willis Towers Watson, the survey polled nearly 1,000 companies that together employ almost 10 million people:

  • 52 percent plan to have vaccine mandates by the end of the year (including 21 percent that already do).

  • 78 percent plan to track employees’ vaccination status (55 percent already do).

  • 17 percent are considering health insurance premium rewards or surcharges to encourage vaccination (2 percent already do).

On employee expectations:

Creating and putting these policies in place takes time. Companies may also be responding to their employees’ shifting expectations (and fears) about returning to the workplace. Another report released Wednesday, conducted by the Conference Board, surveyed 2,400 U.S. workers:

  • 42 percent said they were worried about returning to work for fear of contracting Covid or exposing family members to the virus, up from 24 percent of respondents in a survey in June.

  • 29 percent said they were unsure if they would remain at their current job for the next six months. Among those looking for jobs, 80 percent said that their employer’s stance on flexible work arrangements was very or moderately important in their decision to look elsewhere.

On business travel:

Looking ahead to after the pandemic, one of the things that workers can probably count on is less business travel, according to a survey out Tuesday by Bloomberg of 45 large companies around the world:

  • 84 percent of companies plan to spend less on travel after the pandemic, with a majority of those planning cuts of 20 to 40 percent of their prepandemic budgets. Put another way, all of those Zoom meetings aren’t going away.

Ieshia West loved her job as a bartender.

A 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry who got her first job in a restaurant at age 16, West worked a flexible schedule that allowed her the time to get her college degree. A natural people person, she met some of her closest friends, including her wife, while tending bar at World of Beer in Fayetteville. 

She thrived on the energy and music of a full bar. The money was good. 

But she, like so many others in the hospitality industry, left their restaurant jobs near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no plan to return. Experts say people used the time away from work to pursue education or training at a rate not before seen in previous recessions. 

“People took the initiative to upscale themselves,” said Michael Walden, an economist and professor emeritus at North Carolina State University. 

Service industry amid pandemic:How 6 Fayetteville restaurants adapted, struggled and survived the pandemic

Ieshia West, of Fayetteville, left the restaurant industry in 2020 after nearly two decades.

West, 35, graduated from college not long before the pandemic started, but it wasn’t until the pandemic began that she decided to leave the hospitality industry and focus on her other career. 

She transferred from Maryland to Fayetteville around eight years ago to be closer to family. During her years at Olive Garden and World of Beer, she did a bit of everything, from waiting on tables and tending bar, to working in management and serving as a trainer, traveling around to new restaurants and helping them prepare for their grand openings. 

All the while, she attended college, graduating from Methodist University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She got a job as a social worker with Cumberland County Schools before she graduated, but kept her gig bartending at World of Beer on Friday nights and weekends. 

With a full-time job outside the restaurant, she didn’t depend on the bartending job for her livelihood anymore but loved the lifestyle it offered.

“I had the total package,” she said. 

Then COVID-19 hit. World of Beer, like so many other restaurants across the country, switched to carry-out only. West kept working, but without a bar full of customers, tips were low, a decrease further compounded by what limited work did remain being thinly spread out to more employees. 

She never had a problem following the mask mandate but had to deal with customers who didn’t follow the mask or social distancing rules. At one point she was required to wear latex gloves, which made gripping glass bottles tricky. A bell would ring every 30 minutes to remind employees to drop what they’re doing and wash their hands. 

“It was just a different energy,” she said. 

Everyone — customers and employees alike — was stressed out. She got razzled a few times but never had a customer lose their cool. Her decades in the restaurant industry and social work degree prepared her well. 

“We were working with less, but customers were expecting the same, if not more,” she

Riddle me this: How is it that the economy is still down almost six million jobs from its peak before the pandemic struck, yet there is a record over 10 million open job positions?

It has arguably never been easier for workers to find jobs, or so difficult for businesses to find the workers they need. What gives, and how long will it continue?

The immediate explanation lies in the rapid reopening of the economy earlier this year as vaccinations became widely distributed and most of us more-or-less stopped sheltering in place. It seemed as if every business in the country hung out a help-wanted sign at the same time, especially in the restaurant, entertainment, and travel industries.

The problem is that it’s been difficult for those who lost jobs early in the pandemic and are now either unemployed or out of the workforce altogether to get back to work. They are not even counted as unemployed.

» READ MORE: Unemployment remains high, yet many businesses say they can’t find enough workers

Top of the list in this group are parents at home taking care of children who have been going to school online. There are almost six million parents in this situation, according to the Census Bureau.

It is critical for schools to reopen for in-person learning in the next few weeks. So far it looks as if they will, but the surging number of infections and hospitalizations caused by the delta variant of COVID-19 is a serious threat. If schools don’t reopen in-person or are forced to send students back home again due to outbreaks, parents will have little choice but to stay home too and not go to work.

Almost five million people say they are home and unable to work because they are either sick from the virus, taking care of someone who is sick, or taking care of elderly parents who in many cases were taken from a nursing facility for fear of the virus. An additional three million-plus people are worried that they might contract COVID-19 or spread it if they go back to work.

Of course, these numbers go up and down with waves of the virus. They are high and rising now given the rapid spread of the delta variant, but ultimately they will wane with the pandemic.

This is one more compelling reason everyone needs to get vaccinated. The longer there are a lot of vaccine holdouts, the longer the pandemic will drag on, and the longer it will take to get people back to work and the economy fully up and running.

Then there are the nearly nine million people who because of the pandemic are temporarily laid off or aren’t working because their employer closed temporarily or is out of business. These workers could take other open positions, but doing so takes time to figure out as workers rearrange their commutes, their work hours, and their child-care needs so they can handle the new job.

Low on the list

Castle Brook Academy, one of the longest-running preschools in St. Augustine, has a capacity for 225 students.

Enrollment usually hovers around 125, but for the last year or so numbers haven’t pushed past 75.

That’s not by the management’s choice; rather, the workforce market is limiting the amount of children Castle Brook can serve because the facility — like many other daycare and early learning centers — is having trouble finding and keeping qualified staff members.

Related:St. Augustine unemployment hike may be due to worker passivity

Local economy:St. Augustine’s tourism season ends on a high note despite COVID-19 threat

“It’s very frustrating,” said Stephanie Bradley, Castle Brook Academy’s director. “We have four whole rooms we’ve had to shut down.”

Today, there are nearly 250,000 fewer people in Florida’s labor pool — the total of those employed and those looking for work — than there were when the pandemic struck in March 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

And nationwide, 1 in 5 workers have considered a career change in the past year, according to a Washington Post/George Mason University Poll. 

While the construction industry in Florida seems to have rebounded for the time being, and hospitals and the financial sector have added jobs, overall there are fewer people working or looking for work in Florida today than in February 2020, despite a population increase of more than 300,000.

The hardest-hit industries are restaurants, hospitality, and other services-related jobs, including a noticeable number of unfilled positions among other professions like advertising, public relations, teaching and first responders, records show. 

Locally, in St. Johns County, data from CareerSource Northeast Florida shows the industries most impacted by the employee shortage over the last 30 days are manufacturing, administrative office work, food preparation and service, transportation, sales, and yes, childcare services.

Lindsay Morris, owner of the Rain River Learning Center near the St. Augustine Shores, opened her facility in August 2020

While she doesn’t have a problem keeping her staffing roster full, Morris would like to expand her programs but she cannot find employees.

“I’ll call people in for interviews and they don’t show up,” said Morris. “Maybe they don’t need or want the work.”

Isabelle Renault, president and CEO of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, said she believes employees have more leverage in the current worker shortage. 

“What we’ve seen is there definitely is a desire for those who have the opportunity to do so, to work remotely, or at least have that flexibility in their schedule, maybe to go in[to] the workplace one or two days a week,” said Renault. “Plus, with COVID, if someone is immunocompromised, or has family members who are, there’s that, too.”

Daycare has both scenarios working against it in that it cannot be done remotely and it carries the extra challenge of working in a very hands-on, interactive environment in these COVID-weary days.

“And I can’t blame them,” said Bradley, “because you have to take care of your

The pandemic disrupted many Americans’ work lives. Some of us — generally highly educated white-collar workers with relatively well-paying jobs — were able to shift to remote work. Millions of other workers, especially many poorly paid service workers, simply saw their jobs disappear when consumers stopped eating out and traveling.

Now the economy is recovering — a recovery that will probably continue despite the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. But many Americans don’t want to go back to the way things were before. After a year and a half of working from home, many don’t want to return to the stress of commuting. And at least some of those who were forced into unemployment have come to realize how unhappy they were with low pay and poor working conditions, and are reluctant to go back to their previous jobs.

To be honest, when businesses first began complaining about labor shortages I was skeptical. These kinds of complaints always surface when the economy begins to recover from a slump and often mean only that job applicants have gotten a bit less desperate. Some of us also remember how, seven or eight years ago, Very Serious People insisted that we faced a major “skills gap” and would never be able to get unemployment down to the levels that prevailed before the financial crisis. (Spoiler: We did.)

At this point, however, it seems clear that something really is going on. You can see this from the data on vacancies: There are far more unfilled job openings than you would normally expect to see given the current level of unemployment, which is still fairly high.

You can also see it by looking at what’s happening in the sector hit hardest by the pandemic, leisure and hospitality (think restaurants and hotels). Employment in that sector is still well below its prepandemic level; but to bring workers back, the sector has had to offer big wage increases, significantly above the prepandemic trend.

In other words, some workers really don’t seem willing to go back to their old jobs unless offered substantially more money and/or better working conditions. But why is this happening? And is it a bad thing?

Conservatives insist that it is indeed a bad thing: Workers, they say, are refusing to take jobs because government aid is making unemployment too comfortable. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Remember, they said the same thing in the aftermath of the financial crisis, claiming that the unemployed were being coddled — when the actual reason recovery was slower than it should have been was the destructive fiscal austerity imposed by Republicans in Congress.

That said, the case for worrying about the incentive effects of unemployment benefits is better now than it was then. Aid to the unemployed has been far more generous during the pandemic than it was during the Great Recession; the $300 per week supplement to existing unemployment benefits enacted in December and extended in March, although less than the

Even with COVID-19′s Delta variant surging, people are still traveling to and from Florida in huge numbers. And Tampa International Airport is racing to meet demand.

That’s why the airport this week will hold its largest career fair ever, with nearly 1,000 jobs up for grabs.

The fair, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday between airsides E and F in the main terminal, will feature about 950 openings at shops, restaurants and rental car companies; as well as airport services like maintenance, baggage handling and customer service.

The fair has about twice the number of openings of two other big airport job fairs this year. Events in February and May sought to hire about 480 workers, but filled only a portion of those.

Related: Tampa airport projects more passengers, record revenues in 2022 budget

Most of the jobs are with companies other than the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. American Airlines, Budget Group and FedEx Express are hiring. So are companies that conduct work for other airlines, like Eulen America (Delta, American, Sun Country, Spirit), Global Aviation Services (Frontier, Air Canada) and UnifiService (United, Spirit, Breeze).

Some of the companies looking for workers had to lay off or furlough employees as air travel plummeted during the pandemic.

Aviation company Prospect of Tampa laid off 156 workers; they’re now hiring a number of passenger service workers. Hertz and Avis laid off a combined 277 workers; they’re now looking for rental car sales agents and workers to prepare cars for rental.

Now, though, 1.7 million passengers traveled through Tampa International Airport in July, up from 594,415 in July 2020. Already this year, two new low-cost carriers, Breeze and Avelo, have launched service from Tampa International Airport. And in their working draft budget for next year, airport officials are expecting record revenues.

Related: New low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines coming to Tampa International Airport

“We’re excited to see most of our passengers fly again, and we want to make sure we provide them with the service they deserve and have come to expect of the team at TPA,” John Tiliacos, Tampa International Airport’s executive vice president of operations and customer service, said in a statement.

Job applicants are asked to bring multiple copies of their resumes and two forms of identification. For more details, see tampaairport.com/hiringday.

It’s easy to think of retirement as a period of life when work is off the table. But these days, a growing number of workers are planning to hold down some type of job once their primary careers come to a close.

A good 57% of workers today said they’ll earn money in some capacity once they retire, according to the 21st Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey. And Gen Xers and millennials are more likely than other age groups to plan to work during their senior years.

If you’re not planning to have a job in retirement, you may want to rethink that plan. Here’s why.

Person running pencil along wood.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Your savings might need a boost

Transamerica reports that the median retirement savings balance among all workers today is $93,000. Now to be clear, that’s not a small amount of money for workers in their 20s, and it’s not bad for those in their 30s.

But if you’re in your 50s with a mere $93,000 socked away in a retirement plan, you may not get a whole lot of income out of your nest egg later in life. Having a job is a good way to make up for a balance that’s lower than you’d like it to be.

Also, earning money could make it possible to keep your nest egg untapped for longer. And that could, in turn, give your money a little more time to grow.

2. Social Security could get cut

Some workers today fear that Social Security will run out of money by the time their retirement rolls around. The good news is that’s unlikely to happen. The bad news is that the program may have to cut benefits in the not-so-distant future if lawmakers don’t figure out a way to help it collect more revenue.

Since benefit cuts are a very real possibility right now, it’s a good idea to plan to work in some capacity once you retire. The income from that job could help make up for the fact that your Social Security income isn’t as robust as you may have expected it to be.

3. You may need a low-cost way to stay occupied

Being retired means having many free hours to fill on a daily basis. And that could get expensive.

The great thing about holding down a job is that you’ll have something to keep yourself busy with. And rather than spend money to stay active and occupied, you’ll instead get to earn money you can use to pay for expenses or buy yourself extra flexibility to travel or enjoy different types of leisure.

What does working as a retiree look like for you?

These days, holding down a job as a retiree doesn’t have to mean working a cash register or sitting in a call center all day long. There are many creative gigs you can take on, like selling baked goods or crafts. Or, you can find a job that’s extremely flexible, like driving for a

The share of workers thinking of calling it quits could be higher than expected. Some 65% of employees are looking for a new job right now, according to an August poll of 1,007 full- and part-time U.S. workers conducted by PwC. That’s nearly double the 35% of workers who said they were seeking new work in May.

Workers say their top reason for finding a new job is negotiating for a better salary, followed by expanded benefits and more workplace flexibility, such as the ability to work remotely full-time or on a hybrid schedule.

Among 752 executives surveyed in the same report, just 23% believe workers are leaving because they want better benefits.

Women, Black and Hispanic workers seek higher pay

The current labor market may be an opportunity for underpaid and marginalized workers to close pay gaps, the PwC report finds.

Women, 46%, are more likely than men, 34%, to report they’re looking for a new job because they want higher pay. When considering race and ethnicity, 82% of Hispanic and 67% of Black workers say they’re seeking more pay in a new job compared with 57% of white, non-Hispanic workers.

Bhushan Sethi, PwC’s global people and organization co-leader tells CNBC Make It that leaders must consider these factors in both their retention and their hiring practices.

“Our recommendation there is that companies need to get ahead of this and analyze the data,” Sethi says. “If they see pay gaps skewed around gender or ethnicity or generation for people performing the same job, that’s something they need to address. As you see from the data, it drives more retention risks.”

But while data suggests quitters are leveraging higher wages in the job market, the benefits are uneven due to longstanding inequities in pay practices along race and gender lines.

For example, women who recently quit for a new job are seeing above-average wage growth, ADP data shows — 6.4% wage growth for women versus 5.5% for men. But because of the wage gap, women are starting from a lower average hourly wage level of $27.79, compared to $32.61 for men.

Benefits can improve diversity, equity and inclusion

Organizations have a responsibility to uphold transparent and equitable compensation practices, Sethi says. They must also consider the labor market factors that mean women, Black and Hispanic workers make up a disproportionate share of people who are unemployed, underemployed or have been pushed out of the labor force altogether.

Firms should provide benefits to help retain certain demographics of workers, Sethi says, including paid time off or the ability to work from home, which could make the workplace more accommodating to women who’ve overwhelmingly been pushed out of work during the pandemic due to care responsibilities.

Flexibility will be increasingly important in the coming weeks, Sethi adds, as the Covid-19 delta variant throws school and child-care plans into question.

Leaders should expect new hires to ‘negotiate hard’

A majority, 88%, of executives say they’re seeing higher turnover than normal.

Some are

LIMA — An estimated 3,600 people rejoined the labor force in the nine-county region in June, but only 36 percent of them found jobs, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That led to increases in the unemployment rate across the region.

The number of people with jobs actually increased in eight of the nine counties, as did the total labor force and number of unemployed people. The one exception was Hardin County, which saw its number of employed people drop by 500 and its labor force shrink by 300.

Allen County saw its unemployment rate for June go up 0.4 percentage points to 6.5 percent. That’s still well below the 11 percent unemployment felt in June 2020, as the economy climbed out of the hole created by the economic slowdown associated with COVID-19.

Allen County’s number of employed people went up by 200 to 43,800, and its number of unemployed also increased by 200 to 3,000. The total labor force in the county is now 46,800 people.

There were 2,164 jobs advertised within a 10-mile radius of Lima on Tuesday afternoon on the OhioMeansJobs.com search tool.

The lowest unemployment rate in the region belonged to Mercer County, with its 3.9 percent as the second-lowest rate in the state.

Putnam County had the third-lowest rate in Ohio, at 4.1 percent, up from May’s 3.3 percent but still well below June 2020’s 7.2 percent.

Auglaize County had the seventh-lowest rate, 4.7 percent, up from May’s 3.7 percent and down from last year’s 9.4 percent.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, compared to the national average of 5.9 percent. The lowest rate was Holmes County at 3.8 percent, and the highest rate belonged to Erie, Jefferson and Meigs counties at 8.7 percent.

The state saw its biggest monthly decrease in jobs — 1.7 percent — in real estate, rental and leasing. Wholesale trade jobs dropped 0.8%, and construction jobs and management of companies and enterprises fell by 0.4 percent.

The largest growth areas in Ohio in June were in educational services and arts, entertainment and recreation, which each grew by 5.8 percent. State government jobs increased by 3.3 percent, while leisure and hospitality grew by 2.2 percent.