labor force

JOLTS data metrics: a look at the long-term trends

A new data analysis of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by SSTI indicates again the significant impact the pandemic had on the manufacturing sector. While job openings in manufacturing ranged on a monthly basis from 0.8 to 3.9% of total manufacturing employment in the 20 years prior to the pandemic, it jumped to as much as 7.4% in April 2022. Job openings in manufacturing increased dramatically after the pandemic, presumably as a result of the American economy attempting to adjust for disrupted supply chains and a move to bring more manufacturing back to the U.S. Only education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services had job opening rates consistently higher.  For the economy as a whole, a review of the JOLTS data finds the number of job openings is still significantly higher than pre-covid levels, but is on a decreasing trend.  

The Great Resignation warrants further explanation

In November 2021, the seasonally adjusted quit rate reached a record of 3.0 percent, a significant increase from the previous highest rate of 2.4 percent. This phenomenon of rising quit rates is currently referred to as the “Great Resignation.” Investigating the existing data on labor turnover, the historical quit rate data, and the reasons for the rise of quit rates in 2021 are the focus of a recent article from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review.

Racial disparities in labor market outcomes examined

A new commentary from a senior policy analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examines the extent to which disparities exist between Black and whites in labor market outcomes such as levels of labor force participation, unemployment rates, and earnings. Economic inclusion trends have been studied at the national level, but this commentary takes a look at how those disparities vary within and across states with a specific look at the Fourth Federal Reserve District states of Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

COVID’s unique economic impact evident in employment data

Last week not only marked the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the release of updated employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The monthly data shows that the pandemic had a very unusual effect on workers, experienced both as a uniquely-chaotic period of labor force participation, but also as an unprecedented immediate drop in employment. The graphic captures just how chaotic the last year has been. Compared against the trends of the past two decades, it is clear that the COVID-19 recession has, thus far, affected workers very differently than either the brief 2001 recession or the Great Recession.

Early research reveals pandemic effects on education

A recent Economic Commentary from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reviews the early research surrounding the effects of the pandemic on education and examines three specific areas of concern: the spread of the virus through in-person school settings; the impact of K-12 school closures on labor force participation; and, the effects of virtual schooling on student outcomes.

Organizations unveil fresh approaches to address workforce challenges

In a year that has seen the economy drop off a cliff, unemployment skyrocket and racial discrimination shock the consciousness of a nation, one might think all hope is lost. But there are those who are working to take this moment in time and re-emerge on the other side a stronger, more inclusive nation. As many workers face the prospect of a job that may never return, Americans in a more comfortable position who have been able to shift their work to remote locations have applauded the work of those left on the front lines during the current pandemic. And a realization that the economy wasn’t always working for all, and the American dream was becoming more of a nightmare for large segments of the population, is coalescing into action for better jobs and greater inclusion.

This week, an alliance of workforce partners has begun to release a suite of tools designed to help those who have worked to build their skills through experience, but lack a four-year degree. A recent report reveals how those who have worked to build their skill set have nonetheless experienced stagnant or downward wage trajectories. Turning that tide to a more positive outcome is the driving force behind many in the workforce development field. In this story we look at the efforts of Opportunity@Work and the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, both of which are part of Markle’s initiative known as Rework America Alliance.

Women’s progress could be setback decades due to pandemic fallout

As the pandemic turned workplaces upside down, women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women, especially women of color, are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed and the supports that working women relied on, namely school and child care, have been upended. As a result, more than a quarter of women are contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce, according to Women in the Workplace, the sixth in the series from McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, which calls the current situation “an emergency for corporate America.” And, a recent New York Times story this week detailed how alarm bells are also ringing for women in academia, who already faced obstacles in advancing their research and careers.

Employment in 24 states had not fully recovered since Great Recession BEFORE the pandemic, Pew finds

Coming off a holiday that celebrates workers across the country, today’s labor market is struggling to recover from a peak set in 2000. States whose labor market still hadn’t fully recovered from the Great Recession are facing an even greater economic disadvantage from the pandemic. A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the average prime-age employment rate (adults between the ages of 25 and 54 who have jobs) in 24 states had not fully recovered from the Great Recession before COVID-19 hit. The report considers the prime age employment-to-population ratio, which provides a different perspective on jobs than the unemployment rate. That ratio peaked at 81.9 percent in April 2000, and stood at 80.6 in January of this year before diving to 69.7 in April and climbing its way back to 75.3 in August, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data.  

$2.5 million accelerator fund to invest in community colleges

A new Community College Growth Engine Fund is being launched by Education Design Lab to help mitigate the growing skills gap and strengthen community colleges as drivers of innovation between education and employment. Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, implements and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work.  With funding from national philanthropies and in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College, they will engage a national cohort of community colleges and systems to partner with employers and regional stakeholders. Together they plan to create new pathways to economic mobility and help low-wage and entry-level workers advance into roles that pay at least median wage.

Women leading increase in labor force participation rate

While the labor force participation rate of prime-age individuals (age 25 to 54) remains below its pre-recession level, it has been increasing since 2015. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that college-educated women have made the largest contribution to this recovery.


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