UKG Workforce Activity Report: Businesses Add Employee Shifts Again in July, Delta Variant Threatens Growth

August 3, 2021, LOWELL, Mass., and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:
The UKG Workforce Activity Report for July 2021 shows workplace activity as measured by high-frequency employee shift work data1 increased 1.1%. UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) believes this bodes well for a strong July employment report, which is expected to register a step below especially strong growth in June (+850,000 jobs). In addition, UKG data reveals the expiration of pandemic-related unemployment benefits in many states did not accelerate a return to work. States were just as likely to grow workforce activity if they continued benefits as if they didn’t.

Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG
“People are returning to work — we just haven’t seen the surge of people returning that businesses desperately need. This is true for states that continue to offer pandemic-related unemployment benefits as well as states where benefits have expired. July saw continued momentum building with steady job growth, adding to the gains seen in June. This should set us up well to see an acceleration in workforce activity this fall after the school calendar adds more predictability to parents’ lives. The spread of the delta COVID variant will add unpredictability to this acceleration if it begins to impact business or consumer activity.”

Recovery Scale:
The UKG Workforce Recovery Scale — which compares July’s mid-month activity with pre-pandemic levels — sits at 86.3, essentially flat compared to 86.7 at the end of June.

Business Size:
Smaller businesses continue to struggle greatly compared to larger organizations:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -0.4%
  • 101-500: 0.6%
  • 501-1,000: 0.4%
  • 1,001-2,500: 1.5%
  • 2,501-5,000: 6.1%
  • More than 5,000: 1.8%

Industry Analysis:
An acute shortage of skilled employees continues to pinch healthcare activity, which shrunk for the tenth consecutive month:

  • Healthcare: -1.5%
  • Services and distribution: 1.2%
  • Manufacturing: 2.0%
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: 2.3%

The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index used to anticipate employment growth and job creation earlier than traditional indicators allow. With a sample of 3.3 million employees across 35,000 organizations of all sizes, the UKG Workforce Activity Report uses the number of shifts being worked to determine the current and future health of the U.S. economy.

About UKG

At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), our purpose is people. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG delivers award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions to help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has 13,000 employees around the globe and is known for an inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit

Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a time clock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

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