New surveys published this week show that American workers who lost or quit jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic may not rejoin the workforce anytime soon, if at all.
The US Chamber of Commerce recently polled 529 Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic and have yet to return to work.
Over half of the respondents (53%) said they are somewhat active or “not very active at all” in their current job search, while 65% said they don’t expect to return to work before 2022. Many cited lingering Covid-19 concerns as a barrier keeping them from returning to work, especially women. Almost half said they have been using pandemic incentives or stimulus payments, as well as draining savings or investments, to support themselves since becoming unemployed.
Only 8% said they “never plan to return to work.” Still, the findings show that workers may not be coming back anytime soon, unless they see it as worth their efforts.
According to the survey, nearly half (46%) see a hiring bonus of $1,000 as the main reason to return to work. The poll also showed that flexible work hours, the ability to work from home, and a positive work environment are very attractive to respondents. This means businesses will have to upgrade their employment policies if they want to attract staff.
Moreover, a separate survey from US job searching website Indeed, published on Thursday, showed that people are reluctant to go back to work, having realized during the pandemic that “life is too short to stay in a job they weren’t passionate about.”
Around 92% of the 1,000 people polled shared the sentiment. According to the survey, Americans actually see their current unemployment and the entire labor shortage crisis as a positive thing, which “offered new career opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.” 85% of job seekers are now said to be looking for work outside their former industry, and 97% of those say the pandemic gave them a push to change careers.
There are currently 10.4 million unfilled jobs in the US, with 7.6 million Americans unemployed. A recent note from S&P global economists seen by Business Insider predicts that it will “likely remain tough” to find workers next year, and employees will cost businesses more money and effort. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that 3.4 million people left jobs over the past year and a half, and the majority of them were retirees, which means that many are not coming back to work at all. According to S&P, half of these exits are temporary, yet it is still unclear when they will start working again due to renewed pandemic-related fears driven by the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.
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