Take a walk along any commercial street in New York City and you are likely to see signs on the door or windows. “Now Hiring!” or any similar screaming notice that they are looking for help. Almost every industry is looking to hire employees, but many skilled and experienced employees are not anxious to return to work after the long layoff, mostly due to Covid. If they do, they are not only negotiating terms for their compensation but the number of days they are willing to work in the office and how many remotely. They are anxious to continue the “Covid work ethic” as some have called it. In other words, they were comfortable working from home, and they argue that they were even more productive.
The economy being the way it is should encourage people to look for jobs. Inflation is causing havoc with the budgets of many families, and it would seem natural to seek employment that can bring in additional income. The most recent numbers show that there is a significant movement towards traditional employment in a job setting. The U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs in May, better than expected despite fears of an economic slowdown and with a roaring pace of inflation, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. At the same time, the unemployment rate held at 3.6%, just above the lowest level since December 1969.
According to the Bureau, the areas that saw notable gains included state government education (36,000), private education (33,000), health care (28,000), manufacturing (18,000) and wholesale trade (14,000). However, retail trade took a hit in May, losing 61,000 jobs though the BLS noted that the sector remains 159,000 above its February 2020 pre-pandemic level. It is possible that small retailers are being hit hard by inflation and are not in the mood to take on additional expenses like new employees at this time. It is different in the service sector where the demand for qualified and experienced employees is high.
Despite the job gains, the BLS household survey showed that the labor market has yet to recover all the positions lost during the pandemic. Total employment remains 440,000 below the pre-Covid level.
The labor market is largely favorable for job seekers with the notable exception of some mom-pops stores that are actually consolidating and cutting back. The situation is pretty much in favor of anyone that wants to work. Some of the areas that are in high demand include sales, project management, computer, and information technology (IT), medical and health, accounting and finance, marketing, education, and training.
Almost every large company is hiring. Companies like Amazon, Humana, Marriott International, Northwell Health, UnitedHealth Group, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, Hilton Hotel Corporation, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, Starbucks, Staples, , Microsoft, Sysco, UPS, American Express, Holiday Inn, Best Buy, CVS, and Google have all announced that they will be adding tens of thousands of jobs. Amazon alone said that it was hiring more than 100,000 people as did UPS. McDonald’s is hiring people for more than 50,000 roles. Large supermarkets and box stores have similarly announced their intentions to hire tens of thousands of new workers.
What has also changed is the level of skills and experience that the companies require. Whereas in the past companies might have looked for new employees with experience, today they are willing to train. The experts say that now is a good time for someone to break into a company on the ground floor and work their way up. They also say that companies have raised the amount for starting salaries which may be another reason to snatch a good job during these difficult times for the companies.
Adrianna had her eye on a job at a local bank and had actually applied back in 2018 but the bank wrote her a letter that they were looking for experience for this particular job. She continued working at a small pharmacy but never gave up her interest in the bank job. Passing the bank one weekend recently, she noticed a huge sign in the window that said “Join our professional team. We will train.” Four days later she sat in front of one of the vice presidents and with a handshake was hired. What a difference a few years can make.
In our Jewish community many well paying jobs beckon. There are shortages wherever one turns, be it in retail, hashgacha, or in Jewish education. Many of these jobs were not available a few years ago but Covid changed a great deal. Many seasoned employees retired or preferred to work from home. Jerry, who works for a local retailer for 30 years, decided to become a consultant working out of his home office in a refurbished garage.
The government is frantically looking to full many jobs with the advantage being good fringe benefits and even early retirement. Even law enforcement is now aggressively trying to recruit more candidates. What is interesting is that many of the institutions looking for qualified workers have dropped what was only a few years ago mandatory requirements. For example, some government jobs that may have required a college degree are now satisfied with a high school diploma,
John, a manager in a Midwest computer firm, used to have a pool of qualified candidates whom he was able to call on when a vacancy occurred. In most cases, he says, the candidates were available up to a year or two. Nowadays, he says, he no longer has that pool and has to scramble for possible candidates for every vacancy.
These are certainly interesting times for both job seekers and companies looking to hire. Job seekers can for the first time write their own script for the job they want. They can make stipulations with employers that were unfathomable in the past. Prospective employers now have to meet some of the new expectations of candidates. For example, many job seekers automatically ask to work remotely at least one day a week. In one Lakewood office, more than a dozen employees work remotely on Fridays or agree to work a 4-day workweek. Experts do not see any major changes any time soon. In fact, they are concerned that it may b difficult to get people to work as they did pre-Covid. The next year or two will be telling, especially if some semblance of the Covid regimen continues.