Now that 96 million of Americans have received Covid-19 vaccinations, employers are more optimistic than they’ve been since the start of the pandemic, with more than half expecting to return to pre-pandemic hiring levels before the end of the year, according to new data from Milwaukee-based global staffing firm ManpowerGroup North America.
While employers in all 12 U.S. industries reported positive hiring outlooks, this is especially good news for those in the leisure and hospitality sector, where jobs were decimated amid restaurant closures and travel restrictions. Roughly 27% of employers in this sector anticipate an increase in hiring from April to June. Companies in the transportation and utilities sector are also expected to dramatically increase (23%), as are those in wholesale and retail trade (22%).
“A key question for all employers to be asking is what is the equation for workers to be able to and want to come back to work?” says Michael Stull, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup North America. “It is a mix of safety, flexibility, benefits and pay. Getting that formula right, in order to get more people into the talent pool, is a key equation to solve for.”
ManpowerGroup conducts an Employment Outlook Survey each quarter to get a sense of the hiring plans of more than 7,500 employers in America’s 100 most populated metropolitan areas. The report reveals a net employment outlook of 18% for the second quarter of 2021, when seasonally adjusted to remove the influences of recurring events like holidays and school schedules. This represents a 1% increase from the first quarter of this year.
More good news: Employers in all four U.S. regions are reporting positive hiring plans for the next three months. The Midwest, West and South all have net employment outlooks of 18%, while the Northeast has a net employment outlook of 16%.
Job seekers would do well to set their sights on the Midwest. With an employment outlook of 38%, Madison, Wisconsin, boasts the strongest hiring outlook. Stull attributes this to the city’s growing e-commerce and healthcare industries, which are looking to hire.
Another Midwestern metro Minneapolis, Minnesota, takes the No. 3 spot, with a 33% employment outlook, while Deltona-Daytona Beach, Florida, its warm weather primed for spring break travelers, ranks No. 2, with a 37% outlook.
On the state level, however, employers in the Northeast, especially Rhode Island and Vermont, are among those with the strongest outlooks, a direct result, Stull says, of vaccine optimism. “They were so hard hit,” he says. “There is a lot of positive sentiment around getting back to normal.”
Job seekers who don’t live in these locales may want to consider relocating, as 56% of employers expect employees will be working in the office most of the time in the next six to 12 months. Some 19% say they’ll offer a hybrid work model and 10% plan to offer flexible shifts. Just 6% anticipate working remotely full-time.
And even though vaccination production and distribution have ramped up, most employers (48%) have no plans to mandate vaccinations for their workers, although some (17%) will encourage them to do so by promoting the health benefits. Stull recommends this approach.
“Mandating vaccination is a very difficult thing to manage and administer,” he says. “If people aren’t taking it and companies aren’t encouraging them to get vaccinated, it will slow down the recovery.”