The getting is good in the job market, for nowSeptember 5, 2021
If you are out of work, there’s one consolation: There could be worse times to look for a job.
Labor Day 2021 finds labor-friendly conditions. Companies are reporting difficulty filling open positions, whether the jobs are for cook, software engineer or financial analyst. Many have raised base pay, offered bonuses and inducements such as flexible schedules to get people to sign on.
There’s a catch, though. It’s the Delta variant of COVID-19, which has canceled events and threatened the travel and hospitality industries anew. Its effect is showing up in federal reports covering the job market, although executives remain upbeat about the acceptance of vaccines and the economy’s continued recovery during the pandemic.
“I have never seen a better job market in my 25 years in business than I’ve seen today,” said Tom Gimbel, CEO of Chicago-based LaSalle Network, a staffing agency for white-collar jobs. He cited demand in areas such as information technology, sales and marketing and human resources, and a 35% increase in annual revenue for his firm.
Gimbel speculated that if you stripped out airlines, hotel and restaurant jobs, “I think you’d have the lowest unemployment on record.”
The sectors he mentioned are on the front lines of the Delta threat and some of its businesses have curtailed hiring or closed. Others still need people.
Sam Sanchez, whose restaurants include Moe’s Cantina and Tree House Chicago in River North and Old Crow Smokehouse in Wrigleyville, said his hiring needs range from management roles to the back of the house. The labor shortage has forced him to cut restaurant hours and close entirely on some days.
“Many workers we had have gone elsewhere, to other industries,” he said. Sanchez said he’s raised starting hourly wages, which were about $18, into the low $20s.
“We’re getting a different type of employee now. You have to train them,” he said. But Sanchez said restaurant work can be a terrific prospect for the right person. “You can come in as a dishwasher and end up owning the restaurant,” he said.
The Illinois Restaurant Association has joined with the industry’s national lobbying group to ask Congress to create a class of immigrant worker visas to help it with the labor shortage.
The U.S. Labor Department said Friday the nation’s unemployment rate in August fell to 5.2% from 5.4% in July. But it also said only 235,000 jobs were created, a disappointing figure to economists geared up for more growth after two prior months saw the country gain nearly 2 million jobs.
“The August job gains were somewhat weaker than expected; although it is not clear that it should be viewed as a seriously negative report,” said Dean…