Two critical pandemic aid safety nets ended in September: expanded unemployment benefits and eviction assistance established through the CARES Act in March 2020.  Employers who expected a rush of job seekers are waiting to fill open positions. We polled our nationwide hiring teams to get a pulse. Read on to find out what we learned.

Millions of Americans have been impacted by the change in benefits and support that ended in September. Employment experts anticipated with extended unemployment benefits ending, the millions of job openings across the country would begin to fill as more people look for work. 

Indianapolis headquartered LGC has been in the staffing industry for almost 20 years and offices in 40 cities across the country. Our teams are ready for an influx of applicants. We asked our office leads nationwide what they’re seeing, hearing and feeling. Here’s what we learned.

  • Despite staffing shortages, job openings continue to grow in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, hospitality/foodservice, and warehousing. 
  • Managers are receiving applications, showing the desire to find work is here.  
  • In some cases, applicants simply are not finalizing the hiring process.  
  • Success in hiring and staffing is being seen in states where benefits ended early and wages were increased, but the effect took up to 60 days to realize.

LGC managers believe that they’ll have a better idea of whether the hiring situation will improve early in the fourth quarter, based on feedback from staff in states where benefits ended early. Those are the managers telling us they’re now seeing an increase in people returning to work. We’re also watching national news stories to predict when people will head back to work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 8.4 million potential workers who are unemployed, but it also says there are a record 10.9 million jobs open. The rate at which unemployed people are getting jobs is lower than it was pre-pandemic, and it’s taking longer to hire people.

Several national news outlets are sharing stories about job seekers who say employers are unresponsive. With so many job openings human resources professionals don’t have enough time to respond to everyone. On average for every job opening an employer receives over 100 applications. Just 20% of those are interviewed, according to Forbes. Many companies are using talent management software with AI technology and recent articles show it’s weeding out the wrong (talented) applicants.

A white paper published in August by researchers at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Toronto, says states ended federal benefits early saw larger job gains among the unemployed. Employment jumped 4.4 points relative to jobless individuals in states that kept benefits flowing. The report uses data through the first week of August. Sounds great right? But it translates to one in every eight unemployed people going back to work.

Researchers’ analysis and commentary shows the extended unemployment benefits, which ended in early September, play a small part. Our managers’ feedback echoes that comment. Perhaps hourly and gig workers have discovered they’re in demand and can be picky.

Clients finding success staffing up and hiring are providing better wages and workplace environments. We’ve all read the stories and heard from employees that flexibility is now a priority. It’s back to the basics. Employees want simple things: a good living wage, a positive working environment and respect. Study after study this year show these preferences.

Many of our gig workers are staffed in hospitality-related positions. We know some workers are not ready to return to the workforce because of the fear of getting COVID. Others simply do not want to interact with people who are frustrated by protocols, regulations and requirements who are choosing to take it out on people working in hotels, restaurants and other public locations. The most recent story came from New York City where a hostess following mandates set forth by city officials was attacked by out of town visitors when she asked for vaccine cards. Management that backs staff in these situations will win the hearts and minds of their team members and future staff.

So what’s the answer? Often finding a staffing or recruiting partner can balance the hiring burden for companies with open positions and limited human resources staff. Going old school and reading resumes or having people inside a company make referrals for open positions can help fill those jobs at a lower cost and faster.

With branded companies in need of staff for the holiday season, we foresee more people will soon return to the job market. Having the right tools and systems in place will be critical to ensure open positions are filled putting the right people in the right jobs to ensure success.

George Lessmeister is CEO and founder of LGC Hospitality, a hospitality staffing firm that works with hotel and restaurant leadership. The company is headquartered in Indianapolis operating in over 30 cities across the country.

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