The results are in. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published the jobs figures for December 2021.
Unfortunately, like November, December saw a slowdown in job gains with an increase of 199,000 in non-farm payroll employment in the US. November had seen a 210,000 increase, which the BLS has now revised to 249,000.
This means December is significantly down on the 537,000 average job growth for 2021 as a whole, as well as Dow Jones expectations of 422,000 jobs. The figures for October have also been revised up from 573,000 to 648,000.
What is worrying about these figures is that they were collected in mid-December, which is before the latest wave of COVID-19 linked with the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold.
On 16 December, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 159,860 COVID-19 cases. This has grown over six fold to 705,264 cases on 5 January, according to the CDC.
This situation comes amid a growth in the number of employees quitting their jobs.
November had the highest quit rate on record with 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs that month – this was a 370,000 increase on October figures and brought the total number of US workers who had quit or left their job in 2021 to 67.7 million, bigger than the population of the UK.
How to fill vacancies
With a new wave of COVID-19 cases and the ‘Great Resignation’ continuing at pace, what must employers do to attract new workers and fill their open roles?
While the US federal government has not done the same as the UK in recommending that employees work from home where possible amid the latest COVID-19 wave, some companies have pushed back their return to the office because of the Omicron threat.
A notable example is Apple, which has been very keen to get workers back to offices three days a week, but haw now delayed return to the office indefinitely.
Given it is impossible to know how long this COVID-19 wave will last – and how long it will be until a new variant emerges and causes another spike in cases – employers should lean into remote working.
Employees have noted time and time again that they want flexibility about the location where they work. In fact, a recent study by HiBob found that a lack of flexible working is a major cause of the ‘Great Resignation’.
56% of workers at US mid-sized companies told HiBob they would quit if they were not given flexible working options, 32% at small companies and 37% at large companies agreed.
The data speaks for itself. If you want to attract talent in the ‘Great Resignation’ do not require staff to come into the office, instead allow them choice about where they work.
Employees that feel safe in their working environment will be more engaged and more productive, which is ultimately good for business.
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