Is the Labor Market Finally Stabilizing?

The American workforce may be tipping to a more balanced employer-employee dynamic.

January 20, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Great Rebalancing is coming to the American workplace, as employees are beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels of job security and leverage, reports the Wall Street Journal.

First, workers were laid off in droves during the beginning of the pandemic, and the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 14.7%. Workers were then back in high demand, and the Great Resignation led to employees quitting their jobs in record numbers. Adding to the volatility, Americans had more dollars in their savings accounts, but those were eventually drained when the stock market shriveled and record-high inflation hit the economy. And don’t forget about the “quiet quitters.”

Although the labor market is still tight, there are signs of rebalancing. Hourly wages in December were up 4.6% year over year, but that was the smallest increase since mid-2021. The U.S. added 223,000 jobs, which was the fewest per month in two years.

The Journal interviewed a software developer who took a job at Meta Platforms last year for a “wildly inflated” paycheck during the company’s hiring spree in a tight labor market. The software developer was laid off late last year as one of Meta’s 11,000 job cuts and got a new job that is half of his Meta pay.

He told the Journal his pay was still reasonable—more than he was making a few years ago—and the interview and negotiation process was similar to what he’s experienced during his 25-year career.

Andy Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which helps companies manage layoffs and provides career coaching to those let go, told the Journal that his company is seeing increased business after two of the slowest years in the firm’s history.

“We know that there are a lot more layoffs coming,” he told the Journal.

However, Challenger says that because there are still more jobs than available workers, it’s easy to find work. However, he believes the gap will narrow throughout the year.

“It’s not a time to lay back and feel too comfortable about the tight labor market,” he said.

NACS has partnered with The Good Jobs Institute on how c-store operators can provide “good jobs,” which meet people’s basic needs and offer conditions for engagement and motivation. The Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS members and the convenience industry, allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, enabling executives to run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.

Economic conditions like employment and inflation have had a huge impact on the convenience retail industry in the past two years. At this year’s NACS State of the Industry Summit, John Benson of AlixPartners LLP will share key insights during the “U.S. Economic Outlook for 2023 and Beyond” session. Registration is open at