The pandemic saw working life change forever. Many workers were let go, while others adjusted to working remotely.
In the US, many are now hoping that a sense of normality can resume as the government brings about the end of federal unemployment benefits and wages rise to attract employees to apply for jobs.
However, it seems that millions will not return to the workforce and JPMorgan’s Jesse Edgerton has discussed the situation.
Edgerton told Insider: “Loosely speaking, about half of the people who lost jobs during COVID are still actively looking for work, while the other half are not.”
This observation comes from pre-COVID–19 employment figures compared to today’s levels. Given that 22 million jobs were lost at the start of the pandemic, this means a significant amount of people are out of work.
Fortunately, for those who have been looking for work, 17 million jobs have been created since employment hit its lowest during the pandemic in April 2020. Nonetheless, this still means that 5.5 million jobs have disappeared.
JP Morgan believes that 2.9 million of these jobs represent a “decline in the labor force” that is not set to be filled. The financial firm also found that 900,000 of those who had left the labor force were 55 or older.
It is clear that a significant number of employees have decided to have taken early retirement. This has been supported by other studies throughout the pandemic.
For instance, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City discovered that between February 2020 and June 2021, retirement levels rose to 1.3% which is a lot more than the 0.3% seen in a normal year.
While this is a notable trend, there are still 2 million people who are left unaccounted for. Part of this unemployment statistic can be attributed to the loss of women in the workforce.
The number of women in the workforce dropped sharply during the pandemic and female employment has not yet recovered. In fact, research by the US National Women’s Law Center has found that women accounted for just 11.9% of job gains in August as they found 28,000 jobs, while men gained 207,000.
Part of this issue has been attributed to a struggle to find childcare as employees leave the field that typically pays little.
Speaking about how businesses can regain female employees, Society for Human Resource Management Foundation board member Edie Goldberg told UNLEASH that companies need to go about “rethinking our rigid approach to work offers the best opportunities for attracting and retaining highly qualified women”.
A key element is offering flexibility, including remote working options, to staff that allows them to find the right work-life balance.
Attracting and retaining employees
In response to the “Great Resignation” that is also threatening the US labor market, employers have reassessed the benefits and work-life balance they offer employees.
Technology has also helped organizations to better monitor employee experience; this can be seen in the likes of Culture Amp surveying the workforce. By giving insight through easily filled surveys, bosses can better identify the issues their employees face. This can further help improve employee engagement with their employer and company culture.
By monitoring the satisfaction of employees and reassessing job offerings, companies may be able to attract the talent it is missing and also improve the diversity of their workforce.
However, at the moment, it is clear that the fallout of COVID-19 is still being felt in the economy, and those over 55 as well as women have been impacted the most.