Job opportunities on the way to the new peak of the Omicron wave


Job openings in the US are on track to end last year at a record high in a strong labor market where the gap between available positions and workers continues to widen.

According to estimates from job search website Indeed, there were 12 million jobs in the US at the end of December, based on analysis of online job postings and government data sources.

That would be an increase of 1 million job vacancies since the end of October when the Labor Department reported 11 million open positions, marking an increase in demand for previous workers. discontinuity from the Omicron . variant of Covid-19.

The American workforce is changing rapidly. In August, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs, part of what many called the “Major Resignation.” Here’s a look at where the workers are going and why. Artwork: Liz Ornitz / WSJ

In November, 6.9 million people were unemployed but said they wanted a job, meaning there were about two workers for every three openings.

“Demand continues to be relatively strong for workers,” said Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed.

Mr. Bunker said he was monitoring the possible short-term labor market impact from Omicron and expects demand for workers to ease further later this year as consumer appetite for the commodity increases. decrease.

The Labor Department releases its November employment estimate at 10 a.m. ET. These figures lag private-sector data by about a month and will not reflect any impact from the US rise in Omicrons, which began building in December and is creating disruption in parts of the economy.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said Omicron could weaken the labor market if school closures and disruption to childcare in particular limit people’s ability to work.

Some K-12 schools have changed plans For students returning from the holidays, it may be possible to temporarily begin remote schooling or to cancel classes.

“The most important thing to watch for is engagement — if Omicron affects it. That’s what I’m really worried about as we head into January,” Ms. Swonk said.

The gap between employer demand and available workers started to hit a record last spring and lasted through the end of the year. Employees have still on the sidelines as the pandemic continues. Some workers have been laid off, while others face childcare issues or the fear of Covid-19 in the workplace.

Workers also have quit at a record rate. For example, in October, the unemployment rate reported by the Labor Department decreased slightly from 3% to 2.8%, and the number of jobs that people quit in October decreased from 4.4 million to 4, 2 million, a record high. Labor force participation – which refers to the working-age population either working or looking for work – remains below pre-pandemic levels, at 61.8% in November and much lower compared to 63.4% in January 2020.

Angela Jia Kim, owner of Savour Beauty and Spa in New York City, has 20 employees selling skin care products online and services at two locations. Kim said she has faced worker turnover since rehiring staff as the economy improved early last year.

“I probably have two or three people who just say they’re moving to Colorado or Arizona,” she said. “They just left without notice.”

“I think it’s stress. It’s the stress of the new normal. That’s not how we did business before because now there are more cleaning procedures, more (personal protective equipment). It’s just outside of their comfort zone,” she said.

Ms. Kim said she also had difficulty filling vacancies for both receptionists and estheticians. “It is really hard to find the right people for the right opportunities,” she added.

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