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UKG: November saw the highest shift, pay activity in months

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Shift work for the month of November grew 0.4%, showing the strongest workforce activity since June, according to a UKG report published Tuesday

The analysis could portend a greater rate of job creation in the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report that is due later this week, Noah Yosif, lead labor economist for UKG, said during a press briefing on the data.

Workforce activity — shifts and pay statements — increased for companies of all sizes, the analysis found. Leading growth industries were retail, food service and hospitality at 1.3%; healthcare at 1.2%; and the public sector at 1.1%. 

Recovery in workforce activity within the healthcare sector has been the “standout story of 2023,” according to the report. Such activity has been up for nine of 11 months this year, Yosif said, which represents “a dramatic turnaround from what we saw within the healthcare sector over the past three years.”

Workforce activity within the retail and hospitality sector was up for the second consecutive month, Yosif said, which shows “employers within the retail and hospitality sector have a positive outlook on hiring going into the holiday hiring season.”

However, there were fewer shifts during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday holiday for the fourth consecutive year, the report noted — an indication that employers are adjusting to changing consumer preferences toward online shopping. Consumer spending slowdown due to inflation, interest rates and general economic uncertainty also played a role, Yosif said.

UKG used attendance data and pay statements to analyze shift work trends of 4.3 million employees across 35,000 U.S. companies. Because the data set focuses primarily on hourly workers, Yosif said, “it is especially relevant during times of economic uncertainty, given the fact that hourly employees are more likely to be affected by adverse economic trends within the labor market.”

“This is still a very tight labor market,” Yosif concluded during the briefing. “Workers had a lot to be thankful for. And we can certainly expect a lot more to come in December … as a lot of this workforce activity during the holiday season continues.”

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