Most interesting HR stories of the week

Economists warn of impending recession

According to a number of sources reported in the Financial Times, U.S. economists are said to be predicting a recession for either later this year or early next year. Wall Street economist, Don Rissmiller is quoted as giving 50% odds on a 2023 slowdown, while Goldman Sachs pointed to a “20-35%” chance of an impending recession. Factors responsible for this include the recent 30% rise in oil prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while wheat and corn prices have also risen 17% and 10% respectively in the last three weeks. The FT said the fact “both consumers and market participants know there is a contracting economy only makes the contraction more likely.” It reports that while growth in payrolls and labor force participation have come with high nominal wage gains, firms could start to protect their margins by rising prices.

Covid-19 caused unexpected explosion in early retirement

Coronavirus has caused a swelling in the number of people who have chosen to quit the workforce entirely, according to a report published in The Dallas Morning News. Some 2.4 million more than expected have chosen to retire – a number that equates to the total population of America’s third-largest city, Chicago. On top of long-hours, more stress, and not much more pay, it argues Covid-19 was the ‘red pill moment’ many older Americans were waiting for, choosing to quit entirely rather than carry on being disengaged and under-paid. Despite people no longer earning, the report suggests retiring can actually bring about a “cost of living decrease,” through not commuting, lunching and buying clothes for work. It said employers could soon be left feeling the pain. There are 40 million Americans aged 55-64, with around 4 million looking to retire each year for the next decade.

Egg freezing, IVF and surrogacy evolving to be mainstream perks

Data published by CNBC has revealed 42% of large US employers now offer coverage for IVF treatment, while 19% offer egg freezing – up from 36% and 6% respectively in just the last seven years. In smaller firms with more than 500 staff, the figures are also impressive: with 27% offering IVF and 11% offering egg freezing. These statistics, it argues, point to these benefits having moved from being one-offs a decade ago to being mainstream today. The article quotes WINFertility’s CEO Roger Shedlin who says: “The Great Resignation and resulting historically tight labor market have simply accelerated prevailing trends and pushed employers to more quickly implement family building programs to attract and retain talent.” Data shows one in eight U.S. couples has trouble conceiving. The number of women choosing to freeze their eggs rose 1,000% in the U.S. between 2009-2016.

American employers beat predictions for new jobs

More than 678,000 new jobs were added in February according to latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, smashing the estimate of around 400,000-450,000 jobs. According to the data, the biggest gains were made in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction. The largest areas of growth from within the hospitality sector came from accommodation, food services and drinking places. Here employment more than doubled. Other winners were in employment services, particularly temporary employment services, which saw a 44% increase in jobs; and transportation and warehousing, which saw a 47.6% gain. Analysts say this is evidence the economy is “beginning to normalize”. In parallel with this rise, unemployment ticked down to just 3.8%. Average hourly earnings for staff on private nonfarm payrolls were unchanged at $31.58, representing a slowdown in hourly wage growth after a 5.1% increase over the previous 12 months.

Employers not revising salary budgets despite inflation

Employees will need to get used to flat pay for the rest of the year. Data published by Fortune reveals that – despite rising inflation – less than a quarter of organizations are revising their salary budgets to keep pace. Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, surveyed more than 300 U.S. employers in March and found 45% were not factoring inflation into salary budgets. Less than 25% said they would be making changes to their salary budgets because of inflation. This is likely to come as a surprise to workers, as the same poll found 42% of staff have been asking for higher pay to help with rising costs. “Organizations are being cautious about setting a practice of paying primarily based on cost of living, as opposed to cost of labor,” commented Mercer partner, Tauseef Rahman.

Equal Pay Day Marked

This week (15 March), saw the return of ‘Equal Pay Day’ – although it’s not so much a celebration, rather an indictment of the gender pay gap U.S. women experience. The day is set each year by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), and it marks how far women must work into the year before they’ve earned what men have the previous year. Said a NCPE spokesperson: “Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.” This year the NCPE encouraged women to ‘wear red’ on Equal Pay Day – to “symbolize how far women and minorities are in the red with their pay.”

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One third of nurses plan to quit their jobs this year

Shocking data from Incredible Health – the career marketplace for healthcare workers – finds 34% of nurses polled plan to quit their jobs during 2022. The survey, amongst 2,500 workers, found 44% cited burnout and high stress as the main culprit. Also revealed was the fact 65% of nurses surveyed reported they had been verbally or physically assaulted by a patient or a member of a patient’s family in the past year. Anger around hospital/Covid-19 guidelines (52%) and frustration around staffing/care (47%) were contributing factors creating this aggression. One-third (32%) of nurses also said they had experienced racism in the workplace. “Nurses keep our healthcare system running, and this report demonstrates what is already obvious: that they are working in one of the single most challenging work environments imaginable,” said Dr. Iman Abuzeid, co-founder and CEO of Incredible Health.

 

 

Peter Crush is the interim editor of TLNT. He’s an award-winning journalist based in London, and he writes exclusively about the ever-changing world of work.

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