The last few months have seen a steady flow of strong hiring, but this may have been due to the fact that the spread of the delta variant has discouraged some Americans’ from shopping, flying and dining out.
According to FactSet, economists forecast that employers will add 750,000 jobs in August. That would represent a substantial gain, though below the roughly 940,000 jobs that were added in both June and July. Some analysts are more pessimistic, expecting job growth of 500,000 or less.
Many economists believe that any slowdown in hiring will be temporary. These economists note that employers still struggle to fill jobs to meet consumer demand, and have posted record-high numbers of job openings. __S.6__
The government will release the jobs report Friday at 8:30 AM Eastern Time.
These figures will give us some insight into how strong the hiring environment for the remainder of the year. Many economists and White House officials had hoped that September and the months following would be a time when the market for jobs would rebound from the short but severe recession.
They hoped that with the spread of vaccinations, people would feel less fear about viral infections and be more willing to work. Schools and child care centres would reopen, which would allow more parents to look for work, especially women. And with a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement set to expire next week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and others speculated that more of the unemployed would be looking for work.
These trends will help businesses fill more jobs and reduce complaints about labor shortages.
However, some of these expectations have been questioned by the viral spread of the delta variant. COVID cases have increased in August and July, so Americans are now buying fewer flights and staying less at hotels. After fully recovering in June, restaurant dining has fallen to 10% below its pre-pandemic level.
Some live shows, including the remaining concerts on country star Garth Brooks’ tour, have been canceled. Some businesses are delaying returning to work, which is threatening the survival and viability of downtown coffee shops, dry cleaners, and coffee shops.
Numerous academic studies have shown that Americans are not more likely to seek work after the removal of the federal $300-per-week federal jobless benefit. This would indicate that employers will struggle to find workers over the next months at the wages they are willing.
There are indications that many companies are still seeking to hire, especially businesses not in the public-facing services industry like bars and restaurants. Indeed, a job listing website, reports that the number of jobs available grew in August. This was due to sectors like finance and information technology, where many employees can work remotely.
Walmart announced this week that it will hire 20,000 people to expand its supply chain and online shopping operations, including jobs for order fillers, drivers, and managers. Amazon said Wednesday that it is looking to fill 40,000 jobs in the U.S., mostly technology and hourly positions. And Fidelity Investments said Tuesday that it is adding 9,000 jobs, including in customer service and IT.
Many manufacturers are, however, still experiencing persistent supply shortages. A survey of purchasing managers found that factory output expanded last month even though many companies complained that shortages of semiconductors and other parts, along with shipping delays, were raising costs and limiting production.
According to the survey, the delta variant is leading to absenteeism in many factories. Factory hiring has also slowed down due inability of some factories find enough workers.
Inflation has also been fueled by supply shortages. Consumer prices have risen in July by the highest level in 30 years, according to the Fed preferred measure. Inflation pressures have led to a sharp decline in consumer confidence.
However, consumers have large savings accounts, which they have built up through stock market gains, stimulus checks and limited spending opportunities during the pandemic. Many economists predict that these larger savings will fuel increased spending over the coming months.