How Millions of Jobless Americans Can Afford To Ditch Work

One of the more insidious myths this year was that young people didn’t want to work because they were getting by just fine on government aid. People had too much money, went the narrative.

Only trouble is, the numbers don’t back it up. Instead, early retirement — whether forced by the pandemic or made possible otherwise — is playing a big role in America’s evolving labor market.

People have left the workforce for myriad reasons in the past two years — layoffs, health insecurity, child care needs, and any number of personal issues that arose from the disruption caused by the pandemic. But among those who have left and are not able to — or don’t want to — return, the vast majority are older Americans who accelerated their retirement.

Earlier this month, ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson said the strong stock market along with soaring home prices “has given some higher income people options. We already saw a large portion of the Boomer workforce retiring. And they’re in a better position now.”

In assessing the jobs recovery, economists have pointed out that while the unemployment rate has come down, the labor force participation rate hasn’t improved at the same pace. But Jared Bernstein, a member of President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said that once “non-prime age” workers — those over 55 — are excluded from the metrics a much clearer picture of how the labor recovery is doing emerges because it strips out the retirement narrative.

Last month, there were 3.6 million more Americans who had left the labor force and said they didn’t want a job compared with November 2019, says Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist and professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Older Americans, age 55 and up, accounted for whopping 90% of that increase. “I think a lot of the narratives imagine prime-age workers as being missing, but it actually skews much older,” Sojourner told CNN Business.

The labor shortage and retirement

The oft-lamented labor shortage has become a shorthand for the complicated reality of the pandemic-era labor force. Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers — more than 4 million each month since July — but much of that quitting is happening among young people who are leaving for other jobs or better pay. They’re not leaving the workforce entirely.

“Part of it is a job quality shortage,” says Sojourner. “It’s a bit of a puzzle why employers aren’t raising wages and improving working conditions fast enough to draw people back in. They say they want to hire people — there are 11 million job openings — but they’re not creating job openings that people want.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell underscored that issue during a news conference on Wednesday.”There’s a demographic trend underlying all of this… The question of how much we can get back is a good one, and what we can do is try to create the conditions,” that allow people to come back, he said.

To be sure, some companies have been raising wages to attract and retain staff. Some businesses also offer signing bonuses to get workers in the door. But economists aren’t sure whether these incentives are here to stay and will improve conditions for workers in the long term. “I can want a 65-inch TV for $50, but it doesn’t mean there’s a TV shortage, it means I’m not willing to pay enough to get somebody to sell me a TV,” said Sojourner..

Nearly 70% of the 5 million people who left the labor force during the pandemic are older than 55, according to researchers from Goldman Sachs, and many of them aren’t looking to return. Retirements tend to be “stickier” than other labor force exits, the researchers wrote. Even so, they expect that an improving virus situation and increased vaccination will allow older workers to return to the labor force.

In normal times, retired people are often drawn back into the workforce. But the “unretirement” rate fell significantly during the pandemic, exacerbating the shortage of workers, according to research from the Kansas City Fed. There are some early signs that seniors are coming back to the workforce as vaccination rates increase and employers offer higher wages.quintex-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-768x114-1-1-2-1-1-4-1-2-2-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

The unretirement rate fell to just over 2% early in the pandemic, but in recent months has ticked up to around 2.6%, according to Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed. That’s still off from the pre-pandemic rate of around 3%.Then again, older workers are potentially competing with younger, more qualified applicants for jobs, which could make their return more challenging.

What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans

The recent expiration of federal unemployment benefits likely won’t ease the hiring crunch. It could make it worse. In the past few months, many business owners have grown to begrudge federal pandemic unemployment assistance, which they viewed as providing a disincentive for people to work and thus contributing to a dearth of would-be workers.

With the expiration of that benefit on September 4, 2021, business owners may like what happens next even less. While the jury is still out on the effect of this latest lapse in enhanced unemployment benefits, which clocked in at $300 a week, above what states pay out, history shows that there is a tradeoff.

When unemployment benefits are cut, in general, there is a slight increase in people looking for work, says Ben Zipperer, in economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, but that number tends to be small. The largest result by far, he says, has been a massive decrease in spending among those who’ve lost benefits, which also cuts into a company’s bottom line, making it potentially harder to justify bringing on new hires.

It may also cut into the funds businesses can pay for certain positions, which doesn’t inspire people to get back into the workforce, especially during a pandemic when people more aware of the costs of working at a particular job relative to all the other things that matter in their lives.

“Many low-wage employers are having trouble finding workers to work at [modest] because those jobs are much more dangerous now, and the working conditions are much worse than before the pandemic,” says Zipperer.

In April of last year, the government kicked off its federal assistance program for unemployed Americans, providing as many as 7.5 million access to an extra $600 per week, an amount that was later reduced to $300 per week under the Biden Administration. Unemployment benefits were also offered to contract workers and the self-employed, who under normal circumstances do not qualify for assistance. Payments were extended beyond the traditional 26 weeks offered by most states.

While there are currently no immediate plans in Congress to reauthorize this relief, typical state unemployment benefits will continue, thanks in part to the $350 billion in federal assistance provided to the states under the American Rescue Plan. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has delivered more than $800 billion in unemployment benefits.

If you’re looking for workers, Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recommends staying local before all else, and putting the word out as much as possible that you’re hiring. For instance, he notes that a restaurant owner he’s been in contact with found employees by telling customers about job openings directly.

“I think from a small business perspective, all hiring is local, and to that extent, I see remarkable leadership by small businesses trying to capitalize on one of their biggest strengths, and that is their local reputation,” says Sullivan.

By Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans | Inc.com

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Unemployment Funds in Switzerland

 

US Jobs Report June 2021: Payrolls Jump 850,000, Unemployment Rate at 5.9%

The pace of U.S. hiring accelerated in June, with payrolls increasing by the most in 10 months, suggesting firms are having greater success recruiting workers to keep pace with the economy’s reopening.

Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 850,000 last month, bolstered by strong job gains in leisure and hospitality, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.9% because more people voluntarily left their jobs and the number of job seekers rose.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a 720,000 rise in June payrolls. “Things are picking up,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at the job-search company Indeed. “While labor supply may not be as responsive as some employers might like, they are adding jobs at an increasing rate.”

The gain in payrolls, while well above expectations, doesn’t markedly raise pressure on the Federal Reserve to pare monetary policy support for the economy. Even with the latest advance, U.S. payrolls are still 6.76 million below their pre-pandemic level.

Demand for labor remains robust as employers strive to keep pace with a firming economy, fueled by the lifting of restrictions on business and social activity, mass vaccinations and trillions of dollars in federal relief.

Read more: Black Men’s Labor Force Rises to Largest Ever Amid Recovery

At the same time, a limited supply of labor continues to beleaguer employers, with the number of Americans on payrolls still well below pre-pandemic levels.

Coronavirus concerns, child-care responsibilities and expanded unemployment benefits are all likely contributing to the record number of unfilled positions. Those factors should abate in the coming months though, supporting future hiring.

Wage growth is also picking up as businesses raise pay to attract candidates. The June jobs report showed a hefty 2.3% month-over-month increase in non-supervisory workers’ average hourly earnings in the leisure and hospitality industry. Overall average earnings rose 0.3% last month.

“The strength of our recovery is helping us flip the script,” Biden said in remarks Friday. “Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, employers are competing with each other to attract workers.”

The Labor Department’s figures showed a 343,000 increase in leisure and hospitality payrolls, a sector that’s taking longer to recover because of the pandemic.

Job growth last month was also bolstered by a 188,000 gain in government payrolls. State and local government education employment rose about 230,000, boosted by seasonal adjustments to offset the typical declines seen at the end of the school year.

Hiring was relatively broad-based in June, including other notable gains in business services and retail trade. However, construction payrolls dropped for a third straight month and manufacturing employment rose less than forecast.

“Most of the new jobs now being created are in sectors that were slammed by the pandemic, while companies in other industries are struggling to find available workers,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.

Read More

The overall participation rate held steady and remained well short of pre-pandemic levels. The employment population ratio, or the share of the population that’s currently working, was also unchanged.

Digging Deeper

  • Average weekly hours decreased to 34.7 hours from 34.8
  • The participation rate for women age 25 to 54 rose by 0.4 percentage point; the rate among men in that age group also climbed
  • The number of Americans classified as long-term unemployed, or those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, increased by the most since November
  • The U-6 rate, also known as the underemployment rate, fell to a pandemic low of 9.8%. The broad measure includes those who are employed part-time for economic reasons and those who have stopped looking for a job because they are discouraged about their job prospects

Stocks opened higher and Treasury securities fluctuated after the report.

 

By and

Source: US Jobs Report June 2021: Payrolls Jump 850,000, Unemployment Rate at 5.9% – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The labor force is the actual number of people available for work and is the sum of the employed and the unemployed. The U.S. labor force reached a high of 164.6 million persons in February 2020, just at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The U.S. labor force has risen each year since 1960, with the exception of the period following the Great Recession, when it remained below 2008 levels from 2009-2011.

The labor force participation rate, LFPR (or economic activity rate, EAR), is the ratio between the labor force and the overall size of their cohort (national population of the same age range). Much as in other countries in the West, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. increased significantly during the later half of the 20th century, largely because of women entering the workplace in increasing numbers. Labor force participation has declined steadily since 2000, primarily because of the aging and retirement of the Baby Boom generation.

Analyzing labor force participation trends in the prime working age (25-54) cohort helps separate the impact of an aging population from other demographic factors (e.g., gender, race, and education) and government policies. The Congressional Budget Office explained in 2018 that higher educational attainment is correlated with higher labor force participation for workers aged 25–54. Prime-aged men tend to be out of the labor force because of disability, while a key reason for women is caring for family members.

The Congressional Budget Office explained in 2018 higher educational attainment is correlated with higher labor force participation. Prime-aged men tend to be out of the labor force due to disability, while a key reason for women is caring for family members. To the extent an aging population requires the assistance of prime-aged family members at home, this also presents a downward pressure on this cohort’s participation.

See also

New Unemployment Claims Rise For First Time In Nearly Two Months, But Number Of Americans Receiving Benefits Falls Sharply

1

Last week’s new unemployment claims were higher than the previous week’s revised claims of 375,000, which marked the lowest level during the pandemic, and much worse than the 360,000 claims economists were expecting.

The number of Americans filing claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which extends benefits to self-employed workers not eligible for traditional state programs, also jumped, hitting 118,025, according to the weekly data released Thursday.

Despite the rise in new weekly claims, the total number of Americans receiving any form of benefit fell sharply to 14.8 million in the week ending May 29, about 560,000 less than the week prior and much lower than the 30.2 million weekly claims filed in the comparable week last year.

Crucial Quote

“What the claims information doesn’t tell us is how much faster the job market will heal or where so-called full employment will ultimately be because the latest data tells the story of more than 9 million job openings and an equal number of officially unemployed,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick wrote in a Thursday email, referring to the Federal Reserve’s goal of full employment, which would mean the only people unemployed would be those unable to work. “The easiest part of putting people back to work occurred from May through August of last year, when more than a million jobs per month were added to payrolls.”

Big Number

5.8%. That was the unemployment rate in May, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, down from 6.1% in April.

What To Watch For

On Wednesday, the Fed said it wants to see more progress in the labor market, which is still down 7.6 million jobs since the onset of the pandemic, before it moves to raise rates and tighten policy. The Fed has long insisted the economy is still fragile and in need of assistance due to the ongoing pandemic, but the central bank is likely to change its messaging in light of expected job growth by the end of this year. Officials on Wednesday said they are looking ahead to two interest rate hikes by the end of 2023—sooner than previously expected.

Key Background

At least 26 states—including Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina—have announced they will stop participating in the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits program, which provides an extra $300 a week to jobless Americans, by July 3. Some officials are claiming the payments disincentivize workers to find jobs, but in a note to clients late last month, JPMorgan economists said the early end to the unemployment insurance, which is set to expire in September, looks “tied to politics, not economics.”

They argued that many of the states that have announced the early reduction are not showing signs of a tight labor market or strong earnings growth—two factors used to justify ending the enhanced benefits. Meanwhile, some states have moved on legislation that would authorize one-time “signing bonuses” for unemployed residents who find work.

Further Reading

Jobless Claims Hit New Pandemic Low, But 15.3 Million Americans Are Still Receiving Unemployment Benefits

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at jponciano@forbes.com. And follow me on Twitter @Jon_Ponciano

Source: New Unemployment Claims Rise For First Time In Nearly Two Months, But Number Of Americans Receiving Benefits Falls Sharply

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Critics:

Unemployment benefits, also called unemployment insurance, unemployment payment, unemployment compensation, or simply unemployment, are payments made by authorized bodies to unemployed people.

The first modern unemployment benefit scheme was introduced in the United Kingdom with the National Insurance Act 1911, under the Liberal Party government of H. H. Asquith. The popular measures were to combat the increasing influence of the Labour Party among the country’s working-class population.

The Act gave the British working classes a contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. It only applied to wage earners, however, and their families and the unwaged had to rely on other sources of support, if any.Key figures in the implementation of the Act included Robert Laurie Morant, and William Braithwaite.

Across the world, 72 countries offer a form of unemployment benefits. This includes all 37 OECD countries. Among OECD countries for a hypothetical 40-year-old unemployment benefit applicant, the US and Slovakia are the least generous for potential benefit duration lengths, with PBD of six months. More generous OECD countries are Sweden (35 months PBD) and Iceland (36 months PBD); in Belgium, the PBD is indefinite.

The Unemployment Insurance Act 1920 created the dole system of payments for unemployed workers in the United Kingdom. The dole system provided 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to over 11 million workers—practically the entire civilian working population except domestic service, farmworkers, railroad men, and civil servants.

Unemployment benefits were introduced in Germany in 1927, and in most European countries in the period after the Second World War with the expansion of the welfare state. Unemployment insurance in the United States originated in Wisconsin in 1932.Through the Social Security Act of 1935, the federal government of the United States effectively encouraged the individual states to adopt unemployment insurance plans.

Job sharing or work sharing and short time or short-time working refer to situations or systems in which employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay. These can be based on individual agreements or on government programs in many countries that try to prevent unemployment. In these, employers have the option of reducing work hours to part-time for many employees instead of laying off some of them and retaining only full-time workers. For example, employees in 27 states of the United States can then receive unemployment payments for the hours they are no longer working.

International Labour Convention

International Labour Organization has adopted the Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988 for promotion of employment against unemployment and social security including unemployment benefit.

See also

Bullish Jobs Prediction: Bank Of America Says Employment Will Return To Pre-Pandemic Levels By Year’s End

Daily Life in New York City Around The One-year Anniversary of The COVID-19 Shut Down

Following blockbuster data showing the U.S. added 917,000 jobs in March, analysts from Bank of America said they expect jobs to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year if that pace of improvement continues.

It’s a much more aggressive prediction than other experts, including the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department, have taken so far this year.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has said that while he’s optimistic that hiring will pick up in the coming months, it’s “not at all likely” the U.S. will reach maximum employment this year.

In a hearing before Congress last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she believes the economy may return to full employment next year.

Bank of America’s analysts said they expect “considerably more job creation” in the leisure and hospitality sectors—two areas hit hardest by the pandemic—in the months ahead as the U.S. economy reopens.

The growth Bank of America is predicting also comes with a risk, the analysts said: jobs could continue to accelerate beyond pre-pandemic levels right as trillions of dollars in stimulus spending kick in and the economy reopens in earnest.

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Employment Lawyer Alex Lucifero answers questions about Employee Rights When Businesses Reopen during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada. Can my employer discipline or fire me if I don’t feel safe returning to work when the business reopens? Can my employer recall me from work and put me in a different job, or give me different responsibilities? Can my employer recall younger employees before older employees, in an effort to protect the latter from COVID-19? Lucifero, an Ottawa employment lawyer and partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, joined Annette Goerner on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, where he answered those questions and more.

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All those factors could lead to dangerous overheating and inflation, which could destabilize an already fragile economic recovery and rattle investors.

Crucial Quote

“We saw the economy gain traction in March as the American Rescue Plan moved and got passed, bringing new hope to our country,” President Biden said during prepared remarks on Friday. Biden’s flagship pandemic relief bill authorized another $1.9 trillion in federal stimulus spending.

Big Number

9.7 million. That’s how many people are now unemployed across the country, according to the Labor Department, down from 22 million at the onset of the crisis last spring.

Key Background

Biden unveiled his next legislative effort, the $2+ trillion American Jobs Plan, earlier this week. That plan is designed to revitalize American infrastructure and manufacturing and  jumpstart the transition to clean energy and industry. The Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimated that the plan would create or save 15 million jobs over a decade and that three-quarters of the infrastructure jobs it creates would be for workers with no more than a high school diploma.

Further Reading

The U.S. Added 916,000 Jobs In March As Labor Market Comes Roaring Back (Forbes)

The Economy Doesn’t Need The Fed’s Easy Monetary Policy To Keep Booming, BofA Says (Forbes)

$1,400 Stimulus Checks Are Already Working As Credit, Debit Spending Surges 45%, BofA Says (Forbes)

Powell And Yellen Praise Aggressive Stimulus Spending, Acknowledge Incomplete Economic Recovery In Congressional Testimony (Forbes)

I’m a breaking news reporter for Forbes focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University. Before becoming a journalist, I worked as a paralegal specializing in corporate compliance.

Source: Bullish Jobs Prediction: Bank Of America Says Employment Will Return To Pre-Pandemic Levels By Year’s End.

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