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Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report Shows Businesses Again Struggle to Increase Shift Work

Today's post comes to us from Chris Mullen, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

Back in May (if you can remember way back then), Kronos introduced an exciting new program called the U.S. Workforce Activity Report. The Report is a weekly, data-based analysis of workplace trends that aims to help business leaders and policy makers understand where and how fast employees are returning to work.

Analyzing 30,000 businesses with more than 3.2 million total employees, the Report provides an immediate view into the preceding week's data, including employee shifts worked, new hires, terminations, and pay statements. While this would be interesting and useful data at any time, it's even more germane now because the report compares workplace trends since the week ending March 15, 2020, when the U.S. declared a national state of emergency, against pre-pandemic conditions.

The most recent report was released on August 11th and showed that for the week of Aug. 3-9, shift work volume struggled to grow half a percentage point, increasing only 0.5% week-over-week. Shift volume remains below totals experienced the week ending July 19 - which was the highest volume of activity since hitting “the bottom” the week ending April 12 - while recent average weekly shift growth continues to lag behind what was experienced early in the recovery.

One of the really cool parts about this weekly analysis is that there are both region-specific and industry-specific data points provided. The most recent report showed that regionally:

  • The Northeast was the only region to experience a decline during the week, with shift volume dropping 0.8% to settle at 15.8% below pre-pandemic shift levels.
  • The Southeast experienced strong weekly growth at 2.1% and now sits at 12.5% below mid-March levels.
  • The West increased 1% (down 10.2% overall).
  • The Midwest (down 10.2% overall) increased 0.7%.

From an industry perspective, as K-12 school districts begin fall semester operations, public sector recovered another 2% and is now 23% below pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturing; retail, hospitality, and food service; and the services and distribution sector all remain converged at 12% below normal with no measurable week-to-week growth. Healthcare continues to hover at 8% below pre-pandemic shift volume.

My colleague Dave Gilbertson, vice president in the HCM practice group at Kronos notes, “Shift volume is struggling to grow even one percentage point per week, further reinforcing that U.S. businesses have downshifted into a slower recovery phase during these typically quiet summer months. Organizations are still trying to generate enough activity to call back all furloughed employees, which has been an arduous process. They will need to work through furloughs before the net-new job creation needed to accelerate the economic recovery can gain traction.”

If you are a data junkie like I am, this kind of week-over-week analysis is very welcome in understanding where we are in this recovery. It also speaks to our mission at The Workforce Institute to elevate issues affecting the often overlooked hourly workforce in the United States - many of whom are currently on the front lines of the pandemic.

You can see all of the reports and subscribe to receive new reports as they are released here:

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