By Jamie Zananiri
The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for September 2021 has been released. While the unemployment rate continues to inch closer to its pre-pandemic low, the rate is stagnating. Falling only by .4% from August, unemployment is currently at 4.8%, compared to the historic low in February 2020 of 3.5%. While many expected the ending of pandemic related unemployment benefits (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) this summer to show a surge in the numbers of people looking for work, only 194,000 jobs were added in September (compared to the 500,000 predicted by economists).
As it has been the story for the last 18 months, women continue to leave the workforce (between August and September, 350,000 women left the workforce). Lack of childcare, Delta varient related school closures and schools continuing to keep their classes virtual are among the chief drivers, as women are overwhelmingly shouldering caregiving responsibilities at home. Offering flexible hours and remote opportunities would be key in attracting these workers back.
Wages are continuing to rise- 5% over the last year, and .6% in the last month. Offering competitive wages are just one piece of the puzzle in attracting the shrinking pool of qualified candidates. Remote jobs continue to attract employees, with 13.2% of employees working remotely in September specifically due to the pandemic (this does not include jobs that were remote prior to March of 2020).
Not included in the unemployment rates are 6 million people who have sought work in the last year but not during the four weeks counted for the month’s totals. A subset of that number, 450,000, are considered Discouraged Workers (those who want work but do not believe there are jobs available to them).
Key takeaways from September’s report? Employers would be well served by offering schedule flexibility, remote work, professional development (such as Property & Casualty licensing assistance) and higher wages in order to stand out from their competitors.