ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. economy added 372,000 jobs in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, down slightly from May’s addition of 390,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate was 3.6% for the fourth month in a row, and the number of people who were unemployed was mostly unchanged at 5.9 million in June. These numbers are similar to February 2020 numbers, which were 3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The labor market need is much greater than the amount of people looking for jobs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Still, the labor market remains strong and is holding up better than the economy, which is beginning to cool. U.S. household spending in May slowed down amid decades-high inflation, historically high gas prices and higher interest rates. Gross domestic product fell at a 1.6% annual rate in the first quarter.
Typically, job growth slows amid an economic contraction, which economists believe may happen, but they aren’t certain if companies will broadly cut jobs. Because there are too few workers for available positions, companies have hesitated to let go of employees, and jobless claims remain at historic lows.
“You’re getting companies that are saying, ‘OK, let’s wait and see,’” Susan Sterne, economist at Economic Analysis Associates, told the Journal. “The uncertainty is higher.”
Stern believes the economy is already in a recession but expects payrolls to grow. Job gains in leisure and hospitality, as well as health care, could help drive overall employment higher as sectors such as construction, manufacturing and retail falter, Sterne told the Journal.
The labor force participation rate was at 62.2% in June, and the employment-population ratio was at 59.9%. Both were little changed from May and remain below February 2020 numbers (63.4% and 61.2%, respectively).
These numbers dictate a tight labor market, and companies are raising wages and offering perks like fuel reimbursements to attract and retain employees. Tyson Foods is moving to a four-day workweek after a successful test in January. An HR manager for the company said the three-day weekend improved production for the plant and work-life balance for employees.
“Not only recruiting our top team members but retaining our team members is important to Tyson, so as we talk to our team and decided what they wanted to do, that’s the reason we decided to help with their life along with our production,” Tyson’s Donna Duggan told KTAL.
Some states are getting creative in helping companies hire, Axios reports. In New Jersey, 16 and 17 year-olds can now work up to 50 hours a week, or 10 hours a day, during the summer months, while 14 and 15 year-olds can work up to 40 hours a week. In Michigan, 17-year-olds can now serve alcohol at bars and restaurants to ease shortages in the hospitality industry.
Newly hired police officers in Washington, D.C., can get $20,000 sign-on bonuses, and in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams listed an old rule that wouldn’t allow some city employees to also work as lifeguards. Now, city employees, including first responders, can also work as a lifeguard during their off-hours.
NACS hosted three webinars in June that discussed innovative ways to address the labor shortage facing the convenience retailing industry. Convenience retailers also can access the Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS members and the convenience industry. The tool allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, so executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.
Revisit “Understanding Your Local Labor Landscape” in the December 2021 issue of NACS Magazine for tips on building an effective employee value proposition and how to gain an edge when competing for candidates.