UKG Workforce Activity Report: Hot March Start Cools, Ending with Negative Growth as Hiring Confidence Remains in Flux

March 30, 2021, LOWELL, Mass. and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:
According to the U.S. Workforce Activity Report from UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), total shift work1 decreased 1.2% in March with declines concentrated in the second half of the month. This is in contrast with growth experienced during the first half of March, including a 2.6% increase in shift work volume during the mid-month window used by the Department of Labor to calculate employment gains and losses.

By Business Size:
Businesses experienced varying levels of declines based on segment size. Only the largest businesses experienced growth in March:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -0.9%
  • 101-500: -1.3%
  • 501-1,000: -1.6%
  • 1,001-2,500: -2.4%
  • 2,501-5,000: -3.2%
  • More than 5,000: 3.5%

Industry Analysis:
Following positive gains to start the month, all industries incurred modest declines in March:

  • Healthcare: -2.2%
  • Public sector: -1.9%
  • Manufacturing: -1.6%
  • Services and distribution: -1.2%
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: -0.3%

Region Snapshot:
Shift work volume decreased across all four regions in March, though declines in the Southeast are especially pronounced due to pre-scheduled public school and higher education breaks.

  • Southeast2: -4.2%
  • West:3 -0.8%
  • Northeast4: -0.7%
  • Midwest5: -0.6%

Recovery Scale:
The UKG Workforce Recovery Scale — a measure of shift work momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic — now sits at 85.5, down 1.1 points compared to February. In April 2020, the UKG Workforce Recovery Scale reached a low point of 66.8.

Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group)
“Last March, we watched stunned as COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on our society. One year later, we see promising signs of green shoots for a return to normalcy. Still, it could be another 18-plus months before employment reaches pre-pandemic levels. This is an important reminder that there is a long road ahead for millions of Americans still out of work. Hiring confidence at the business level will be critical going forward.”

The UKG Workforce Activity Report is an index of high frequency shift work data spanning 3.3 million employees across 35,000 organizations measuring workplace activity to measure the pace of employee activity. It is current through March 28, 2021. For more insights, visit

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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 more than 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.

Footnote 2: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 3: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Footnote 4: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 5: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

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