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How COVID shakes the labor market

Ali Caravella’s last working day as human resources director was on July 31, 2020, when she resigned from the job she once cherished.

She closes her laptop at her home office in Connecticut at 4 p.m., replies to every e-mail in her inbox, and is struck by the strangeness of the moment.

“I don’t step out of the building or pack up my things,” the mother of five and three-year-old daughters told The Post. “I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went for a walk to reflect and process.”

Caravella, 36, decided never to work for a large corporation again. Her job turned into an 80-hour workweek, managing hundreds of layoffs.

She is among the 1.4 million mothers of school-age children leave or be forced to leave a career and jobs during the pandemic.

And like many of them, Caravella is not going back into the workforce — at least not in the same way. Since her husband had a job that could support them both, she decided to start her own freelance business, guiding the careers of other women. It gives her more time and flexibility with her children.

The pandemic has forced seismic change in the labor market, with millions of jobs changing. But while the unemployment rate – people actively looking for work – fell to a low of 4.2%, the labor participation rate also decreased.

The national unemployment rate has fallen to a low of 4.3%, but the share of working-age adults who are employed or looking for work has fallen below pre-pandemic levels, meaning millions dropped out of the workforce. In 2019, the participation rate was close to 63.5% - now it's 61.8%
The national unemployment rate has fallen to a low of 4.3%, but the share of working-age adults who are employed or looking for work has fallen below pre-pandemic levels, meaning millions dropped out of the workforce. In 2019, the participation rate was close to 63.5% – now it’s 61.8%

There are about 3.6 million fewer workers now than there were in February 2020. By some measures the number is much larger and could be 6 million, according to the chief economist, according to government data. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.

The majority of the missing workforce are people 55 years of age or older – about 2.4 million people – who early retirement by choice because they might be low-income or financially retired-age workers who were hit by a glitch at the start of the outbreak.

COVID-19 nearly doubles retirement rates in 2020, driving the largest workforce exit rates in at least 50 years, according to Siavash Radpour, associate research director at the Retirement Equity Lab at The New School.

There is also the simple, tragic fact that the pandemic has took 800,000 lives — and about half a million of those victims were working-age adults, Zandi estimates.

Exhausted mothers

The rest of the workforce that is missing is a mix of people in dual-wage families who have decided to come due with one income; people who have decided to start their own business or get “gig” jobs; and discourage low-income workers.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s survey of household conflicts also found on Wednesday that about 4.9 million people say they don’t work because they’re caring for kids who aren’t in school or home. Young (Some of these people show up on unemployment numbers because they are still looking for work.)

Mothers are the second hardest hit group during the pandemic after older workers, economists say.

The majority of the missing workers were 2.4 million people aged 55 or older who decided to retire early by choice or fired. Only youth participation in labor increased by 0.8%.
The majority of the missing workers were 2.4 million people aged 55 and over who decided by choice or fired that they would retire early. Only youth participation in labor increased by 0.8%.

While fathers and mothers with school-age children largely shared childcare duties last year, when “holistic virtual learning begins in March 2021, we see a picture gap between with fathers going back to work and mothers staying at home,” said Misty Heggeness, chief economist at the Census Bureau.

Studies show that women’s overall participation in the labor force has dropped to 1980s levels or about 52% from about 60%.

“We found that mothers who work remotely are more likely to leave the workforce than women without children,” according to Heggeness’s research. “Over the past school year, they have been multitasking as mothers and employees that have exhausted them.”

In September, as the school year began, the number of mothers not working rose to 1.4 million from 850,000 in August, Heggeness said.

For Caravella, the ups and downs of her children being quarantined because they came into contact with another child with COVID took a toll.

Part-time employee failed

Another group “outside” are people who worked in part-time, low-wage jobs before the pandemic and lived in urban areas, according to an analysis of government data by Radpour.

“These are people who have lost their jobs and are at the bottom of wages,” Radpour said. “My guess is they’re depressed and think they can’t find a job.”

Lower-income workers are unlikely to be able to improve their lives and move to a new workplace, he added, and they may face other obstacles, including transportation problems. .
“We don’t know if the unemployed are holding the types of jobs that are available,” Radpour said.

That goes a long way toward explaining the abundance of “help needed” signs on the windows of shops and restaurants, employers known for helping out. Part-time.

Not surprisingly, entry-level jobs, even in the hotel industry, construction, manufacturing and healthcare, had the highest wage growth over the past 21 months as evidenced by the increase in wages for 16- to 24-year-olds. Their wages and wages have skyrocketed 10% compared with a dramatic 2.1% increase for those 55 and older, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s wage tracker.

However, higher wages are not enough to convince some workers to return to their old jobs.

Bankrate senior economist Mark Hamrick said: “It is remarkable that we had 21 million people lose their jobs in March and April 2020, and that left everyone in a difficult and heartbreaking state of mind. economic and may cause irreparable harm to their employers”.

Indeed, a large number of people are simply switching careers – by choice or not – leaving jobs in high-revenue industries such as restaurant jobs, which have already suffered some of the biggest job losses. .

senior woman at home
78% of older workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, the highest level since AARP began tracking in 2003.
beautiful pictures

Elderly people are closed

John O’Neil, a former chef to celebrity chef David Burke, decided to leave the culinary industry this summer to become a generator technician in Connecticut.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 20 years because it’s just my passion. As with everything in life, we need to change our paths to improve the quality of our lives,” he told The Post in July.

According to AARP senior policy adviser, Jen Schramm, older workers face a unique set of challenges, namely discrimination.

While the number of retirees tends to increase during a recession, this increase is partly driven by employers looking to reduce their risk by hiring older workers. them, experts say.
“Age awareness is very high during the pandemic,” says Schramm.

In fact, 78% of older workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, the highest level since AARP began tracking this question in 2003.

Most older workers who have retired within the past two years, whether they’re well-paid or not, have lost their jobs and started unplanned retirement, says Radpour.
Economists do not expect the number of retirees returning to the workforce to reduce the staffing shortage in part because wages have not increased for this group.

For depressed workers, a pay rise could help them get back to work, just as ending the COVID federal aid check allows people to go unpaid for more than a year.

construction workers
Construction has been one of the industries with the highest wage growth over the past 21 months as evidenced by the increase in wages for 16-24 year olds.
Getty Images / iStockphoto

For mothers, some may return to corporate or work hours after their childcare crisis subsides, but others, like Caravella, may never return. Enter the corporate world again.
That’s why groups like Path Forward, which helps women find work after a hiatus, are in greater demand now.

In 2019, the nonprofit worked with 27 companies, including Amazon, Walmart, and Netflix, to convert 158 ​​women who spent time raising children back into the workforce.

This year, about 40 companies, including Intel and Dell, have signed up for Path Forward’s services, bringing about 278 women into the company’s jobs, chief executive Tami Forman told The Post.

“Employers recognize that all of these women are pushed out of the workforce and unable to work if their day care center closes,” Forman added. “The pandemic has raised awareness among employers that moms represent an available talent pool that they once overlooked.”

https://nypost.com/2021/12/17/how-covid-shook-up-the-labor-market/ How COVID shakes the labor market

Bobby Allyn

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