UKG Workforce Activity Report: Omicron Variant Continues to Slow Economic Momentum in January
The UKG Workforce Activity Report for January 2022 shows the total number of shifts worked1 by people at U.S. businesses decreased 5.1% in January, the largest decline in workforce activity since the pandemic began. While shift volume typically declines seasonally in January — including -3.0% in January 2021 and -0.5% in January 2020 — this year’s dip is larger than usual following the persistence of the omicron variant combined with poor winter weather along the Eastern Seaboard mid-month. During the second half of the month, declines slowed as the impact of the omicron variant on workplaces began to wane.
Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG
“A significant number of hourly employees called out sick or missed shifts due to winter weather through the first half of January. While the impact resulted in the largest decline in workforce activity we’ve seen since the pandemic began, this impact is expected to be temporary — as, by late January, the effect of omicron on sick leave had noticeably lessened. We don’t believe this record slowdown in workforce activity was a result of job loss greater than we typically see in January; however, we are quite certain that the hiring of hourly workers did not accelerate in the month. We still see employers struggling to hire large numbers of hourly workers, as many organizations are continuing to get creative in the benefits offered to entice those workers off the sidelines.”
All industries experienced weakened performance from December to January, and, with the persistence of omicron, all performed below January 2021 levels:
- Healthcare: -4.5% (-1.2% in January 2021)
- Public sector and non-profit: -4.9% (0.1% in January 2021)
- Manufacturing: -5.0% (-3.3% in January 2021)
- Services and distribution: -5.4% (-3.7% in January 2021)
- Retail, hospitality, and food service: -7.2% (-6.0% in January 2021)
Negative growth was experienced across all regions:
- Northeast2: -6.5%
- Southeast3: -6.3%
- Midwest4: -5.0%
- West5: -5.0%
In January, small, mid-sized, and large businesses all saw steep reductions in hourly shift work:
- Fewer than 100 employees: -7.7%%
- 101-500: -5.4%
- 501-1,000: -2.0%
- 1,001-2,500: -4.1%
- 2,501-5,000: -5.9%
- More than 5,000: -6.8%
The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index that anticipates U.S. job creation and gauges economic growth by analyzing the number of shifts worked weekly across a sample of 3.9 million employees at 35,000+ organizations.
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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 timeclock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.
Footnote 2: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Footnote 3: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Footnote 4: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.
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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