The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has disrupted business operations and forced millions of people to stay home from work. But at least in December, it didn’t calm the flaming job market.
Employers posted 10.9 million jobs in the last month of 2021, Labor Department say Tuesday. This is a modest increase from November and closes to a record 11.1 million openings in July. There were about 1.7 jobs for every unemployed worker in December, the highest level in two decades. that the government has tracked.
Forecasters had expected an increase in coronavirus cases to lead to a drop in hiring, and a slowdown was still possible. Nationally, coronavirus infections did not peak until mid-January, and they are still increasing in some parts of the country.
The virus sent millions of workers home in December and January, left many businesses short of staff and forced some to close or limit working hours. That has probably forced some companies to postpone hiring. Employers may also have a harder time hiring as some are unwilling to look for or start new jobs as virus cases increase.
But so far there is little evidence that Omicron has derailed a strong job market. Employers laid off or laid off just 1.2 million workers in December, the least number on record. Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton, said the tough hiring environment could prompt some companies to lay off workers temporarily after the holiday to keep them on this year.
“Companies keep their seasonal employees the same,” she said. “One, because it already has a labor shortage. And two, because they have so many sick people, they want to keep everyone in. “
Many workers are taking advantage of them by looking for better jobs. More than 4.3 million workers quit voluntarily, down slightly from November but still near a record.
With a shortage of workers and employees in the driver’s seat, companies are raising wages. Wages and salaries have increased by 4.5% in the last three months of 2021, according to separate data released by the Department of Labor last week. Wages are rising fastest in particularly labor-scarce sectors, such as leisure and hospitality.
Economists will get a more up-to-date view of the labor market on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on job growth and the unemployment rate for January. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expected the report to show that employers added 165,000 jobs. But Omicron has created an unusual amount of uncertainty, and some economists believe the report could indicate a net job loss last month.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/business/economy/job-openings-omicron.html Job openings still increase in December despite Hurricane Omicron