Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record 8.1 million job openings at the end of March, while payrolls showed a disappointing 266,000 gain in April. The employment picture was similar for the retail sector, which saw a widening gap between the number of open positions and workers who were taking on those roles.
With job vacancies up and hiring slowing down, retailers are finding it more challenging than ever to recruit and retain employees. Exacerbated by the global health crisis, a few factors are at play: the fear of contracting COVID-19, limited in-classroom learning and day-care capacities, a drop-off in production levels attributed to supply chain disruptions and even additional jobless checks from the federal government.
“It’s not a labor shortage; it’s a lack of willingness to do the job,” said David Ritter, managing director of global consultancy Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group. “The traditional pre-pandemic models are competing against a $300-per-week unemployment benefit. It’s a supply and demand issue that’s putting employers in a tough position, and employees have the power in that there’s more jobs than workers willing to take those jobs.”