UKG Workforce Activity Report: Shift Data Predicts Lackluster Jobs Growth in May

UKG to discuss findings in live market briefing May 31 at Noon ET
May 31, 2022, LOWELL, Mass., and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:
The UKG Workforce Activity Report for May 2022 shows the total number of shifts worked1 by people at U.S. businesses declined 1.0% relative to April 20222. Smaller companies with fewer than 1,000 employees experienced twice as much loss (-1.4%) as larger companies (-0.7%), while shift work in retail (-2.5%) and healthcare (-2.2%) fell the farthest. As workplaces continue to experience stress from challenging economic conditions, consistent small workforce activity declines in 10 of the last 11 weeks indicate a soft landing for the economy may be in progress, with modest employment gains expected in May.

UKG will discuss the findings in a live market briefing on Tuesday, May 31, at 12 p.m. ET (U.S. and Canada). Register to attend.

Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG
“We have confidence that the May jobs report will again show gains, though these should be lackluster compared with April. This is likely a sign we are in the early stages of a soft landing in the labor market, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s goal of moderating job availability as a curb to inflation. Zooming in on shift levels by industry, retail workforce activity has declined three months in a row following sustained growth in 2021, as retailers adjust their staffing levels in response to a more complex operating environment. In healthcare, we saw the segment continue its long-term trend of underperforming, dropping 2.2% from April to May.”

Industry Analysis:
Workforce activity in the retail, hospitality, and food service segment started to decline in April and the trend accelerated through May, just as hiring begins to come under pressure ahead of the summer season:

  • Services and distribution: -1.0%
  • Manufacturing: -1.7%
  • Public sector and nonprofit: -1.8%
  • Healthcare: -2.2%
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: -2.5%

Region Snapshot:
Western states recorded the greatest drop in May, though a comparison year over year shows the Southeast still lags all other regions in terms of recovery:

  • Northeast3: -0.5%
  • Midwest4: -0.7%
  • Southeast5: -0.8%
  • West6: -3.6%

Business Size:
Month over month, businesses with fewer than 1,000 people lost twice as many shifts in May on aggregate, compared with larger organizations:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -1.2%
  • 101-500: -1.0%
  • 501-1,000: -2.6%
  • 1,001-2,500: 0.0%
  • 2,501-5,000: -0.7%
  • More than 5,000: -2.3%

The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index analyzing shift work trends for 4 million people at 35,000 U.S. businesses to understand job creation and economic momentum.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. As strong believers in the power of culture and belonging as the secret to success, we champion great workplaces and build lifelong partnerships with our customers to show what’s possible when businesses invest in their people. Born from a historic merger that created one of the world’s leading HCM cloud companies, our unique Life-work Technology approach to HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people helps more than 70,000 organizations around the globe across every industry anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work. 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 timeclock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

Footnote 2: In May 2022, UKG adjusted data for April 2022 to better account for and mute the impact of the spring religious observances, which fell during the April mid-month week.

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

Footnote 5: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 6: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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