Hardest states to recruit in revealed; big rises in workers with a secret second job

This week's HR news that caught our eye: the rise in the number of people with 'secret' jobs; plus the hardest places to hire

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Jun 2, 2023

Worst states for recruiting revealed…

New data released this week, reveals just how hard it is becoming for employers to find talent in certain states. South Dakota is officially the hardest state to find people in, with an unemployment rate of just 1.9%. To put this into perspective, just 17,210 people are officially unemployed – a tiny pool employers can fish in. What the data shows however, is that even in the state with the highest unemployment level – Nevada, at 5.4% – this is still below the national average for the past 80 years. The states that are most difficult to find staff in after South Dakota include the likes of New Hampshire, Alabama, Utah, Vermont and Maryland – all with unemployment rates a less than 3%. The figures come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (April 2023), and reveal that the current labor force participation rate stands at 62.6%. Other states where it’s tough for employers to hire include Nebraska (where the unemployment rate is just 2%); North Dakota (where unemployment is 2.1%); Montana (2.3%); Maine (2.4%) and Florida (2.6%). All-told, some 22 states have unemployment levels of 3% or less, and only two states have unemployment rates at greater than 5%.

… as big job gains quash slowdown claims (again)

Analysts will be left waiting another month (at least) to prove they’ve got their slowdown predictions right. That’s if ADP’s private payroll estimate is anything to go by. Its data suggests employers added around 278,000 jobs in the month of May – well above estimates. “We’re witnessing a labor market whose strength will not be denied,” commented Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association. The biggest gains came in leisure and hospitality – which are reportedly up by 208,000 – as well as in natural resources and mining, which ADP says increased by 94,000. Manufacturing and finance saw losses of 48,000 and 35,000 respectively. Gains were broad-based across the size of firms with only large employers with 500 or more workers seeing a reduction in jobs. The accuracy of these predictions, however, will be confirmed when the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report is published today (2nd June).

Significant rise in numbers ‘secretly’ working a second full-time job

Dramatic new evidence suggests rising number of workers are secretly working two ‘full time’ jobs (that is jobs which each comprise 35 hours or more hours per week). New data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that in 2022, there were 373,000 people taking home two full-time salaries. This is up 22% compared to the 307,000 dual-jobbers from year earlier. Not only does the BLS suggest the real number is likely to be much higher, but analysts argue most employers are unlikely to realiz that any double-jobber they employ is also working full-time for somebody else. Says “Employers have a right to be concerned if their employees are working more than one job.” It adds: “The problem of overlapping employment is not possible without remote work, particularly fully remote work. HRDs may want to reconsider changing their policies around how frequently employees must work on site or adopt monitoring techniques.” To put this recent rise in context, from 2019 to 2022, there was only a 1% increase in the number of people working one full-time job and one part-time job (45,000 workers) and an 11% decrease in the number people working two part-time jobs (233,000 workers).

Protection services firm sued for racial discrimination

Triple Canopy, the Virginia-based company that provides protective services to federal agencies, has been accused of violating federal law by refusing to allow a male worker to have a beard as a religious accommodation and not scheduling him for work after he complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to a suit brought against Triple Canopy, the EEOC claims the employee involved was unlawfully denied a request for religious accommodation, even though he was unable to provide additional substantiation of his beliefs or a supporting statement from a certified or documented religious leader. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs absent undue hardship and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. “Employers have a duty to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs absent undue hardship,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “That duty exists whether or not the employee is a member of a formal religious group.” Mindy E. Weinstein, director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office, added, “Employees should not have to choose between their religious beliefs and their employment.”

Non-compete agreements violate US labor law, says official

For the estimated 18% of US employees subject to them, non-compete agreements have long been seen as an employment law scourge, and now a US labor board official has agreed, penning a memo to agency lawyers to this effect. In the memo, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, said non-compete agreements discourage workers from exercising their rights under US labor law to advocate for better working conditions. She added that they violate labor law “unless the provision is narrowly tailored to special circumstances justifying the infringement on employee rights.” Even though some states, like California, Oklahoma and North Dakota, have banned non-compete agreements, many states still allow them, arguing they are a crucial way for companies to protect trade secrets. But many Democrats and worker advocates say the agreements suppress wages and make workers less mobile. Abruzzo asked agency lawyers to send cases to her office involving potentially unlawful non-competes.

Low-income workers have ‘gained’ the most in recent years

It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the pay of those defined as being on ‘low incomes’ that have benefited the most in recent years, according to new analysis by Politico. It finds those making an average of $12.50 per hour nationally saw their pay grow by nearly 6% from 2020 to 2022, even after factoring in inflation. This is significantly bigger than what low-wage workers got during the entire administration of President Barack Obama, following the Great Recession. At the same time, price spikes have eaten away raises for the highest-earning employees, leading their inflation-adjusted income to drop by roughly 5% over the past couple of years. All-told, Inflation-adjusted income for the 10th percentile of the workforce — the ones earning an average of $12.50 per hour nationally — surged by 5.7 percent from March 2020 to March 2022. This compares to the 3.9% rise the same cohort saw between 2009-2017, which amounts to less than half-point gain per year.

Hundreds of Amazon workers ‘walk out’ over climate concerns

Amazon workers in Seattle this week staged both a physical and online walkout, to protest about the company’s environmental credentials. For despite Amazon investing heavily in renewable technology – including pledging to deploy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030 and reaching net-zero carbon by 2040 – emissions actually increased by 18% in 2020-21 and by 40% since 2019 due to more customers buying from it during the Covid-19 pandemic. One protester was Church Hindley, a quality assurance engineer. He said: “I’m out here because I refuse to just sit idly by while mandates are dictated from above down that don’t make sense and hurt the planet, hurt families and individual lives.” Amazon, which still relies heavily on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. Employees chanted their disappointment with the pace of the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by saying: “Emissions climbing, time to act.” Commenting on its sustainability progress Brad Glasser, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We all would like to get there tomorrow, but we have very substantial transportation, packaging, and physical building assets. It’ll take time to accomplish.”