Higher Pay? Lower Requirements? Nothing Drawing Employees Back

Where are the workers? That’s a question that employers have been asking since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. And so far? No one really knows.

A June report from the ADP Research Institute demonstrates just how serious the shortage of workers has been for employers. Citing numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ADP reports that in March of this year, total public and private employment is 822,000 workers short of what it was in February of 2020. Part of the reason is that so many employees have quit since the pandemic started.

ADP, again citing numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that the number of people who quit their jobs in 2021 rose 36% when compared to the previous year. That’s a jump of nearly 12 million people leaving their jobs.

In all, 45.4 million people quit their jobs in 2021. As ADP says, the Great Resignation is a real event.

This has made it difficult for companies to fill their open jobs. In 2019, employers found new hires for about 84% of their job openings, ADP said. In 2021, that number had fallen to 71%. As ADP reports, applicants aren’t showing up to fill all those open jobs.

According to the report, there were nearly 30 million more private-sector job openings last year than in 2019. That’s a jump of 39%. And it’s not that employers aren’t trying to fill these positions. They’re even offering a greater number of remote job opportunities. ADP says that unique job postings for remote positions more than doubled in 2021 from the year before, hitting 2.8 million.

ADP found that employers are desperate enough for new workers that they are lowering their standards when it comes to whom they are willing to hire. The minimum years of experience that employers are requiring for new workers has shrunk from 5.8 years from January of 2018 to February of 2020 to 4.3 years from March of 2020 to March of 2022.

Companies are offering more money, too. ADP said that advertised wages were up 4% for commercial truck drivers, 10% for cashiers, 8% for registered nurses and 13% for stockers and order fillers when compared to the months leading up to COVID.

When will these perks have an impact? When will all those missing employees rejoin the labor force? Unfortunately, no one yet knows.