By guest author Patricia Cohen from the New York Times. She covers the national economy for The New York Times and is the author of “In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Promising Future of Middle Age” (Scribner). Ms. Cohen joined The Times in 1997 as ideas editor to create the Arts & Ideas section, and later oversaw the paper’s theater coverage. An award-winning reporter, she has written extensively about ideas, books and the arts, and worked as an investigative reporter in the Culture department.
Hiring leapt back up in June as employers added 850000 workers, the government reported Friday. It was the strongest gain in 10 months and a fresh sign that the labor market’s recovery is gaining momentum.
The U.S. unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.9 percent, the Labor Department said.
At the same time, the appetite for pandemic-driven jobs such as couriers and grocery store workers are ebbing as sectors like leisure and hospitality ramp up. A big chunk of June’s gains — 343000 — were in that sector.
The education sector also showed a big pickup in hiring, although economists caution that seasonal adjustments could inflate the estimated gains. That is because there is normally a large drop in the number of teachers when schools let out for the summer. Accounting for that traditional decline may be complicated by the fact that not as many educators were working because of pandemic-related school closings.
Becky Frankiewicz, president of the staffing company ManpowerGroup North America, said that with so many employers in search of workers, “the core challenge now is enticing workers back to the work force.”
Governors in 26 states have moved to end distribution of federal pandemic-related jobless benefits even though they are funded until September, arguing that the assistance — including a USD 300 weekly supplement — was discouraging people from returning to work.
In states where benefits have already been cut off, though, recruiters have not seen a pickup in job searches or hiring. “I would have expected to see more people engage at a higher rate in the work force when the federal subsidies were ended,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “We have not seen that correlation yet.”
The online job site Indeed surveyed 5,000 people in and out of the labour force and found that child care responsibilities, health concerns, vaccination rates and a financial cushion — from savings or public assistance — had all affected the number looking for work. Many employers are desperate to hire, but only 10 percent of workers surveyed said they were urgently seeking a job.
And even among that group, 20 % said they didn’t want to take a position immediately.