UKG Workforce Activity Report: November Jobs Growth May Exceed Expectations Based on Accelerating Shift Work Growth

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

National Overview:
The UKG Workforce Activity Report for November 2021 shows the total number of shifts worked1 by people at U.S. businesses increased 1.4% in the month. This acceleration makes November the third strongest month for shift growth in 2021, trailing March (2.6% / 785,000 new jobs) and June (2.0% / 962,000 new jobs), two months where surging shift volume growth indicated stronger-than-predicted jobs growth. Continued growth in the retail sector (2.3%) once again helped lead the way ahead of the holiday season.

Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG
“Shift work growth started to accelerate in late September and has continued to pick up speed throughout November, increasing another 1.4%. This is great news, as the fall acceleration we were expecting after Labor Day has finally arrived, albeit a little later than expected. We believe people are ready to capitalize on the return-to-work incentives being offered by many companies because they feel confident schooling and childcare will not be interrupted, and that COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters will keep them safe at in-person workplaces. Of course, the emergence of the omicron variant must be closely monitored to determine if it will undermine this confidence.”

Black Friday Recap:
Black Friday retail staffing aligned closely to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. When combined with strong seasonal hiring in early to mid-November, it demonstrates that the retail sector is nearing a return to normal workforce activity.

Industry Analysis:
Shift work volume grew across nearly every sector at its highest rates since June:

  • Public sector and non-profit: 4.5%
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: 2.3%
  • Services and distribution: 1.5%
  • Healthcare: 1.1%
  • Manufacturing: 0.0%

Region Snapshot:
Impacted by rising case rates, the West was the only region to experience negative shift growth in November:

  • Midwest2: 1.9%
  • Northeast3: 1.5%
  • Southeast4: 1.2%
  • West5: -0.1%

Business Size:
In November, larger businesses grew at 8x-12x the rate of smaller businesses:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: 0.4%
  • 101-500: 0.5%
  • 501-1,000: 1.7%
  • 1,001-2,500: 1.9%
  • 2,501-5,000: 4.1%
  • More than 5,000: 6.4%

Recovery Scale:
The UKG Workforce Recovery Scale — which compares shift activity with pre-pandemic levels — increased 1.0 point in November to reach 87.0.


The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index that anticipates U.S. job creation. With a sample of 3.8 million employees across 35,000+ organizations of all sizes and industries, the report analyzes the number of shifts worked each week and month to gauge economic momentum.

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.

Footnote 2: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 3: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 4: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 5: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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